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 hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found 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 someone suffering from severe hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. This study was also led by experts 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 analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after 10 years. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 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 matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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 simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • At this time, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Around 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To discover whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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