For many years, researchers have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen hazards, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have 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 becomes a budget buster if you choose not to address 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.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after 10 years. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.