Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

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 examined for years. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:

  • The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
  • An individual with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

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 likely. 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 starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also run by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow over time. After ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase including:

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

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

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 3.6 more falls

Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children

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

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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