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

For a long time, researchers have been considering the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on november 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

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 discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

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. Higher medical costs 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 starts to be a budget buster if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That number continues to increase over time. After a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

Those numbers match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

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
  • Approximately 2 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • At this time, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing

The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more research is necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.