The effect hearing loss has on general health has been studied for years. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
Untreated hearing loss comes with unseen risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
- A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when a person 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.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills 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 examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. 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 link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are expected to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are needed to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.