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 examined for years. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as managing 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. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

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

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain has 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 doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. This study was also run by researchers 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. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.

Over time, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after 10 years. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. 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

The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • About 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up 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.

The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.

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