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

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • A person with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss

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, as well. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these things add up to higher medical costs.

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 run 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. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. After ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase like:

  • Dementia
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Depression

A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 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 research 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 difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • 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
  • About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more studies are necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.

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