The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been studied for years. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
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 significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- 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 risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
The study shows 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.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Approximately 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
- Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. 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 alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do know is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.