Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from 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.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to deal with your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They examined 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 costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Cognitive decline
- 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. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is known is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to determine if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.