Neglected Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Expenses More Than 40%

Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

For a long time, researchers have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for methods to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

There are unseen risks with neglected hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:

  • A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has 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 effect on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.

The Newest Research

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, too. This study 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 with untreated hearing loss were examined. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to increase as time goes by. After a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

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

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

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

Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • At this time, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
  • Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

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

Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is recognized is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert 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.