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Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For years, experts have been thinking about the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills 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 starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. 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 analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That number continues to increase over time. Healthcare expenses increase 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 including:

  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Lower quality of life
  • Dementia
  • Falls
  • Depression

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • At this time, 2 to 3 out 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 number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone 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 the year 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more studies are necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.

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