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. A new study takes a different approach 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 put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • An individual with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
  • A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. After a decade, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. 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:

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

A second associated study done 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

Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Loss of hearing presently effects 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
  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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