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, 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. As the expense of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

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

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. More expensive medical bills 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 led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

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

That amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase like:

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

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

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

The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • The basic act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are anticipated to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right now.

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