Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For many years, researchers have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace 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 impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. 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 who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow as time goes by. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

  • Depression
  • Falls
  • Cognitive decline
  • Dementia
  • Lower quality of life

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Approximately 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Currently, two to three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are anticipated to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further studies are required to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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