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

For many years, researchers have been investigating the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research 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 community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:

  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
  • An individual with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia

The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. 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, as well. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also led by experts 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. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Falls

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls

Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.