For a long time, researchers have been thinking about the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. 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 examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A link 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:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Presently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
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 figures are expected to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is recognized is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further research is required to determine if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.