Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. 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. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
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. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 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:
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further studies are required to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.