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

For years, experts have been investigating the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

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

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

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these factors 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients 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 people with normal hearing.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after 10 years. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
  • Presently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

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

Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is understood is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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