Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
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 who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The basic act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- About 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Over time, those figures are expected to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is required to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.