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Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For many years, experts have been investigating the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild 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
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss

The study revealed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. 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. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. 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 analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to increase over time. After a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Depression
  • Falls
  • Dementia
  • Lower quality of life
  • Cognitive decline

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

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 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
  • Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. 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 figures, though. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Further research is required to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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