For many years, experts have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to lower 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
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study showed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow over time. After a decade, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. 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 research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- There’s significant deafness in those aged 45 to 54
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.