The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been examined 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 searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest research 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. This research was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. After a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered 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
Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Approximately 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those figures are predicted to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.