For years, researchers have been considering the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these costs. 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 Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with unseen hazards, 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 effect on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. 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 impact 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 things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. 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. 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:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.