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

The effect loss of hearing has on overall health has been studied for years. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:

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

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. 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 led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this number continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing

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

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further research is necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.

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