The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with hidden dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’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 getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. Over ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those numbers match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are expected to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is understood is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more studies are necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.