For many years, researchers have been considering the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. 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 profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss 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 grow. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after a decade. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered 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 stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is known is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional research is necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.