The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been examined for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
There are hidden risks with neglected hearing loss, 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:
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
The study showed that when a person 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 such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget buster if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people 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.
That amount continues to grow over time. Over a decade, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those stats match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Currently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, additional studies are necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.