For a long time, experts have been investigating the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to reduce 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 Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. 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 it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to deal with 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.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those figures are anticipated to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.