Hearing Health Blog

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

The effect loss of hearing has on overall health has been studied 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 profession, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. This study was also led by researchers 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 than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Depression
  • Falls
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Dementia

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Currently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • The basic act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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