The impact hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
There are hidden hazards with neglected hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these things add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
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 choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. This study was also run by researchers 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. Only 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 number continues to increase. Over a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- About 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further 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 professional right now.