Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage 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 have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This research was also run by researchers 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 generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
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
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are anticipated to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is needed to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.