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. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
There are unseen dangers with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study showed that when somebody suffers from 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.
The inability to hear has an effect 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. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow as time goes by. After a ten year period, healthcare costs 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 associated with the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates 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 difficulty hearing
- Around 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are expected to go up. 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. To figure out whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.