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

The effect loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward 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 tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. 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 it starts to be a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

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

As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Depression
  • Falls
  • Cognitive decline
  • Dementia

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

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

Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf

The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted 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 change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.

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