For years, researchers have been thinking about the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and individuals are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. 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 costs.
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 analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after 10 years. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are expected to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.