The effect loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest research 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. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection 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
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates 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 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.