Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Poor hearing 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. All these things add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. 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. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. After a decade, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 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:
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Currently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.