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

For a long time, researchers have been investigating the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

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 effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. 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 deal with your hearing loss. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after 10 years. 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:

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

A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated 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 study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54

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

The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further research is required to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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