Folsom Hearing Aid Center - Folsom and Placerville, CA

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

For a long time, experts have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by evaluating what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are looking for ways to lower these costs. 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 Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. 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. 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. 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 with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Just 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 as time goes by. After a decade, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:

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

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

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

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

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
  • Hearing loss presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Approximately 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have trouble hearing

For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. 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.