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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 hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as simple 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 tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact 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
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss

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

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these things 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 starts to be a budget buster 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. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.

That amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase including:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 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 numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54

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 in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.

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