Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

For years, experts have been investigating the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss

The study revealed 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. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.

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. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

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 compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to grow over time. After ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase including:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 3.6 more falls

Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • Currently, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has hearing loss

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.

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