Audiology Ear Care - New Brighton, MN

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

The effect loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. A new study takes a different approach by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia

The study shows 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 like maintaining balance.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. 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 starts to be a budget buster if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also run by experts 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 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after 10 years. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

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

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are anticipated to rise. 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 figures, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional research is needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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