For years, experts have been considering the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study revealed that when somebody suffers from 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.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, as well. 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 Research
The newest study 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 examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.
That amount continues to grow over time. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. 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 numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are required to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.