For many years, experts have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.
How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen hazards, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage 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 common. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
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, too. 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. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to increase over time. After a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
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 challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is common 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 number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. In the future, those figures are expected to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.
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