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

For many years, researchers have been thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

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

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia

The study showed 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 such as maintaining balance.

Poor hearing 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. 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 becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also run by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

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

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done 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

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Presently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
  • There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do know is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.

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