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

For many years, researchers have been investigating the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these expenses. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on november 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster 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 doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.

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 researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. 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 grow. After a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. 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 study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Currently, between two and three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • The basic act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss

The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are required to determine if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.

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