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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 thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected 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 ways to lower 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 help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

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

  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
  • A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as 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 common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.

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 analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just 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 as time goes by. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after 10 years. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

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:

  • 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 match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are expected to rise. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further studies are needed to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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