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

The effect hearing loss has on overall health has been examined for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for methods to lower the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

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 mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing

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.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also run by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

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

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

Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54

The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. In the future, those figures are anticipated to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.