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

The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. A new study takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to lower the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

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

The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. 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 it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your hearing loss. This study was also run 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. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That number continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 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 match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss

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 predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, additional studies are necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care expert right away.