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

For many years, experts have been thinking about the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
  • Someone with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing

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

Poor hearing 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. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.

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 take care of your hearing loss. This study was also led by researchers 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 examined. 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. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing

The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above 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.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.

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