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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 investigating the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for methods to lower the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace 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 like maintaining balance.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.

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 decide not to address your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

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

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

  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Around 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Currently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18

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

The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are needed to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.

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