For many years, researchers have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study 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 escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with unseen risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate 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.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
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 address your hearing loss. This study was also led 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 examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase like:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. 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.
Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.