For years, researchers have been thinking about the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward 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 dangers with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Research
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, also. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow over time. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses 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 associated with the increase including:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
Those numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The simple act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. 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.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Further research is required to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.