Audiology Specialty Clinic - Sioux Falls, SD

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

The effect loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

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

Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.

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.

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 expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow over time. Over a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered 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

Those figures correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are expected to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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