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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 thinking about the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical community and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss

The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people 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.

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

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
  • There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children

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 rise. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.

The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is understood is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.