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If You Have Untreated Hearing Loss Your Healthcare Costs Could be up to 40% More

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

For many years, experts have been considering the impact loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the focus of a new study. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Affects Health

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

  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

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. More expensive medical bills 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 buster if you decide not to deal with your hearing loss. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.

That amount continues to increase over time. After a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 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 research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • There’s significant deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.

The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Further research is required to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.

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