For years, researchers have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding 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 consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- An individual with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study showed that when someone has 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 can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. 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 it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to deal with your loss of hearing. This study was also led by experts 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 generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to increase. Over ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 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 research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.