Untreated Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Costs More Than 40%

Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

For years, experts have been considering the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession 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 make a significant difference.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

Neglected hearing loss comes with hidden dangers, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
  • 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 reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.

The Newest Research

The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This research was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They analyzed 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 number continues to increase. Over ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

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

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

The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

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

The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. In the future, those figures are expected to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.

The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.