Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 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:
- Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. 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 is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further research is needed to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.