Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
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 led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
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.
As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 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 research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Currently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those figures are predicted to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.