The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple 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. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. 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 can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
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 decide not to address your hearing loss. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
The number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.