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

The effect hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to lower the rising costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor 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 showed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. 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 impact on quality of life, as well. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these things 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 becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to deal with 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 who had untreated hearing loss were examined. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to grow over time. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase like:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • At this time, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • The simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf

The number rises to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.