For years, experts have been thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research 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 methods to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
The study revealed that when someone has 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 injury.
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. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
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. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. After ten years, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are anticipated to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional research is necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.