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

The effect hearing loss has on overall health has been studied for years. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending is the aim of a new study. Consumers, as well as the medical profession, are searching for ways to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Somebody with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.

Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.

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

That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Over a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Falls
  • 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. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

Those stats match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

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

  • Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
  • Approximately 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
  • Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing

The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. In the future, those numbers are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.

Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.