For many years, researchers have been thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
There are unseen dangers with neglected hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs 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 not dealing with hearing loss 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 analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. After a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
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 had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- At this time, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
The number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. 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 figures, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.