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

The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been studied for years. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published 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, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage 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. They are also prone to depression. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. This study 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 costs than individuals with normal hearing.

That amount continues to grow as time goes by. After ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

Those stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

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 hearing loss
  • Approximately 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing

The number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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