For a long time, experts have been thinking about the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
The study showed that when someone suffers from 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 such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
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 breaker if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. This study was also led by researchers 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 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Over a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Hearing loss 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 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
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. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is recognized is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.