Healthcare Cost Can be Over 40% Higher if You Have Untreated Hearing Loss

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

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

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

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 considerable effect on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing

The study showed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these things 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 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 examined. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after 10 years. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

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

A link 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
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

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
  • About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people aged 18

For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are predicted to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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