The effect loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring 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 Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
The study reveals 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.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your hearing loss. 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 who had untreated hearing loss were examined. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this number continues to increase. After a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase including:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises 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 the year 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further studies are required to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.