Hearing Health Blog

Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

For many years, experts have been investigating the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen dangers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:

  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • A person with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace 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 like maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.

The Newest Research

The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This research was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.

That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • 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:

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

Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
  • The simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Around 2 percent of people at the ages of 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 in the future. 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 recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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