The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been studied for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession 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 published on november 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, 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 effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things like 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. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. All these things 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They analyzed 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 costs than people with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Over ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- 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 had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
Those numbers match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are expected to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. It seems obvious 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.