The impact hearing loss 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. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
- Somebody with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact 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. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
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, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- At this time, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected 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 mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To discover whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.