For years, researchers have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors 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 starts to be a budget buster if you choose 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.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. After a decade, 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 suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. 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
Those figures match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- There’s significant deafness in those aged 45 to 54
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number goes up to 25 percent for those 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 may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is needed to determine if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.