For a long time, experts have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients 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 individuals with normal hearing.
Over time, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. 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 companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do know is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is required to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.