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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 impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, 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 minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has 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.

The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, as well. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 3.6 more falls
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

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:

  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are predicted to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to confirm if using hearing aids decreases 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 are right for you.