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

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. A new study takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor 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 has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very 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 breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. 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 with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

A connection 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 research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.

The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.

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