Untreated Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Expenses More Than 40%

For many years, experts have been considering the effect loss of hearing has on a person’s health. Finding out what neglected hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these costs. A study published on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can help significantly.

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

  • The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
  • Someone with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia

The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. 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 choose not to address 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 who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

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

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:

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

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:

  • Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
  • Approximately 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • 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 rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.