The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been studied for years. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study showed that when somebody 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 such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to address 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.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased 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 research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. In the future, those figures are expected to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.