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 general health has been studied for years. New research takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to lower the soaring costs of healthcare. 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 Affected by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

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 very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors 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, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 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:

  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
  • Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The basic act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is required to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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