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

The impact hearing loss has on general health has been studied for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia

The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. All these factors 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. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had 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 amount continues to increase over time. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after 10 years. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:

  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
  • 3.6 more falls
  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression

Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s considerable deafness in those aged 45 to 54

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those numbers are anticipated to rise. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.

The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more studies are necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.