Bright Audiology - Sanford, NC

Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

The effect hearing loss has on general health has been studied for years. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and consumers are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.

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 found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia

The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.

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 decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. After ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Falls
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Cognitive decline
  • 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 found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 3.6 more falls
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • About 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is understood is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.

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