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

For years, experts have been considering the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference 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

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Somebody with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’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 factors.

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 choose not to take care of your hearing loss. 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 who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after 10 years. 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:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered 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

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing

The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those figures 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 touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are required to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.