For years, experts have been thinking about the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are looking for ways to lower these costs. 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 hidden dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- Someone with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study showed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest research 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 address your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. After ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, additional studies are necessary. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.