For years, researchers have been investigating the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has 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 impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. 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 becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to increase over time. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those figures match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in those aged 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Presently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.