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

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. New research approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for ways to lower the rising costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

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

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss

The study reveals 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 like maintaining balance.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. All these factors 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

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

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

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Falls
  • Depression
  • Lower quality of life
  • Dementia

A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. 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

The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

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

The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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