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

The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been studied for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss

The study showed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. 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 expenses.

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. 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 who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to grow. Over a decade, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

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
  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 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. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces 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 help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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