Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
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.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
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 had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are expected to rise. 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 is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further studies are needed to determine if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.