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

For a long time, experts have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

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 mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’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 starts to be a budget buster if you decide not to address your hearing loss. 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 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

That amount continues to grow over time. Over a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

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

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • There’s significant deafness in those aged 45 to 54
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are expected to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

The research doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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