The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been studied for years. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. After a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Presently, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are predicted to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.