The effect hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
The study shows 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 injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills 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 becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They analyzed 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 costs than people with normal hearing.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.