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

The effect loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact 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 those with moderate loss of hearing
  • Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia

The study revealed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. 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 buster if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.

That amount continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

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

Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The basic act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. 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 figures, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.