Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. 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. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. 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 dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined 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.
Over time, this number continues to increase. Over ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 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:
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Presently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are predicted to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.