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

For years, experts have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

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

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 such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

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

Over time, this amount continues to grow. After ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 3.6 more falls
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 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 on the Rise

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

  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54

The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional research is needed. 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 are right for you.

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