For a long time, experts have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden hazards, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when someone 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. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
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 led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to increase over time. Over a decade, 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 involved in the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- There’s significant deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Over time, those numbers are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more studies are necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.