The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
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 buster if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. After ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- 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:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
Those figures match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
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 predicted to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further studies are needed to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.