Neglected Hearing Loss Raises Healthcare Expenses More Than 40%

Man with hearing loss going over financial loss.

For many years, researchers have been thinking about the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. As the cost of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and consumers are searching for ways to lower these expenses. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says a solution as simple as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

Neglected hearing loss comes with unseen risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
  • Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
  • A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia

The study showed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.

The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. All these things add up to higher medical costs.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also run 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 number continues to increase over time. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

The study lists factors involved in the increase including:

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

A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:

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

The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.

Hearing Loss is on The Rise

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

  • Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
  • The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
  • Presently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
  • Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing

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.

Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further studies are necessary to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.