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

The effect hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
  • A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia

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 damage because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 it starts to be a budget buster if you choose not to address your hearing loss. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. 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 research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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