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

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been studied for years. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for methods to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

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

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss

The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

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

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 breaker if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. This study was also run 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 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 increase as time goes by. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted 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

Those stats match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • At this time, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Hearing loss is prevalent 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

The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is necessary to determine if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.

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