Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. 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 can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
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, too. This research was also run by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients 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.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those statistics, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
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:
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- The basic act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further research is required to confirm 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.