Hear in Edmonton - Edmonton, Alberta

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. New research takes a different approach by looking at what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical community and individuals are searching for ways to lower these expenses. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

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

  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia

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

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to address your loss of hearing. This study was also led 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. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Over ten years, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase like:

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

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:

  • 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 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:

  • Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

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

Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are required to determine if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.

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