HEARING TIPS

Untreated Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Expenses More Than 40%

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

The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been studied for years. New research takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and individuals are looking for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

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

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

The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. 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 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to grow. Over ten years, healthcare expenses 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:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted 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

The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises 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 the year 2060.

The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing 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 help you.

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