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Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For a long time, experts have been investigating the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. 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 Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • Somebody with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this number continues to grow. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Depression
  • Lower quality of life
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Dementia
  • Falls

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 3.6 more falls

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

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
  • There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18

The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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