For a long time, researchers have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. 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 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The simple act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- There’s significant deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone 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.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further research is required to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right now.