For years, researchers have been investigating the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
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 mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
The study shows 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 like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs 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 buster if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. 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. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found 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 numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
- At this time, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those numbers are expected to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is known is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are required to determine if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.