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 risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of 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 damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. 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 study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
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:
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
- There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.