The effect loss of hearing has on overall health has been studied for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with neglected hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- An individual with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
The study showed that when a person suffers from 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. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. 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. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after 10 years. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
Those numbers match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
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
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- About 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do know is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.