If You Have Untreated Hearing Loss Your Healthcare Costs Could be up to 40% More

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

For many years, researchers have been thinking about the impact 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. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, 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 mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has 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.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these factors 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

They examined 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 expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this number continues to grow. After a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years

Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • There’s significant deafness in those aged 45 to 54
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, additional research is necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.

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