For a long time, researchers have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen hazards, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- 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 chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
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 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 with 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.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. After a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. 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
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- At this time, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.