For a long time, experts have been investigating the impact loss of hearing 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. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to lower the rising costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
Untreated hearing loss comes with unseen dangers, 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
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has 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. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This research was also run by experts 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 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
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 challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are anticipated to rise. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.