For a long time, experts have been investigating the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury 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 doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This study was also run by experts 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 analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after 10 years. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are predicted to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further studies are required to determine if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.