HEARING TIPS

Untreated Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Expenses More Than 40%

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

For a long time, experts have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Understanding what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for methods to lower the rising costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

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

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

The study revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also run 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. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

That amount continues to grow over time. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. In the future, those figures are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

The research doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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