For years, researchers have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these things 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 it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to take care of 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.
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 costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow over time. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase including:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those stats match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.