The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been studied for years. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study showed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. 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 with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Presently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.