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

For many years, researchers have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Consumers, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to lower the escalating costs of healthcare. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study put out on november 8 2018.

How Hearing Loss Impacts Health

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss

The study showed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. 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 breaker if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

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

That amount continues to grow over time. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a decade. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase like:

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

A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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
  • There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18

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

The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To determine whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.

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