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Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For a long time, researchers have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple 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, 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 severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. After a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Decline of cognitive ability

A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 3.6 more falls

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:

  • About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
  • Approximately 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are predicted to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To discover 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 find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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