For many years, researchers have been considering the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
Neglected hearing loss comes with hidden dangers, 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:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study showed that when someone has 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 like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, as well. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
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 decide 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. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
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:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. To figure out whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.