For a long time, researchers have been thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing 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 impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- A person with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
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, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
Those numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Currently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, additional studies are necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.