For many years, researchers have been investigating the effect 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. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. 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. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
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, also. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. 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:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Loss of hearing currently impacts 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 anyone above the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right now.