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

The impact loss of hearing has on general health has been examined for years. New research approaches it from a different angle by evaluating 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. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

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 significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • A person with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia

The study reveals 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 damage 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. All these things 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to deal with your hearing loss. This study was also led 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 examined. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Over ten years, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. 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 numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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
  • Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf

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. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.