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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 examined for years. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the focus of a new study. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing 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. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss

The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace 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 damage.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have 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 not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors associated with the increase including:

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

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

Those numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

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

  • Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • There’s significant deafness in those aged 45 to 54
  • The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • 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 goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. 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.

The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is known is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.