Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been studied for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are unseen hazards with neglected hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:

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

The study revealed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

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 depression. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.

The Newest Study

The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. This research was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

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 expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to increase as time goes by. Over a decade, 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
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Dementia

A link 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
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

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:

  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing

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

The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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