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

For years, experts have been considering the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
  • A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to increase over time. After ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase like:

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

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

  • 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 numbers match with the study 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
  • Presently, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing

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

The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, additional research is needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.

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