Neglected Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Costs More Than 40%


Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

For years, experts have been thinking about the effect hearing loss 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. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on November 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

  • The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
  • An individual with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss

The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.

The Newest Research

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to take care of 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.

77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. After ten years, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

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

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

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years

Those numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54
  • Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing

The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those figures are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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