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

For a long time, researchers have been investigating the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

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

  • Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss

The study reveals 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 injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.

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 analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

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

Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Presently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18

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

Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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