Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
The study showed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. This research was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were examined. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Around 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.