For years, researchers have been investigating the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to lower the soaring costs of healthcare. 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 Affected by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
The study revealed that when somebody 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. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
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 ran 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 number continues to increase over time. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- 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 hearing loss
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.