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

The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia

The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. 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, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.

The Newest Study

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, also. This study was also led by experts 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 examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Over ten years, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Falls
  • 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. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
  • There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Loss of hearing 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 number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to determine if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.

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