For a long time, researchers have been investigating the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate 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 such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.