Untreated Hearing Loss Can Incur Higher Health Care Costs

Hearing loss treatment is an investment. More than ever before, new studies are showing that treating your hearing loss is worth it. For the quality of life, potential earning, and avoiding larger medical expenses down the line.

A new study from John Hopkins University makes the point very clear. Following subjects for a full decade, patients with the untreated hearing loss had 46% more healthcare expenses than subjects with healthy hearing. This is a difference that adds up to over $22,400 over the span of a decade.

A Big Effect

The recent John Hopkins study represents more than a decade of research into the effects of untreated hearing loss. The study was looking at people with both healthy hearing and untreated, age-related hearing loss. It tracked total healthcare expenses and hospital stays over a ten-year span.

Their team used healthcare data to look at the money spent on healthcare after 2, 5, and 10 years. A gap in expenses was seen early. After only 2 years, people with untreated hearing loss were spending 26% more on health expenses. By ten years, that gap had become much larger. Over the span of ten years, subjects with healthy hearing had on average $48,750 in medical costs. People with age-related hearing loss averaged around $71,150 for the same time period. Again, that?s 46% more health care costs than those with healthy hearing. This information indicating that failing to address hearing loss has ongoing problems for your overall health.

Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Why does untreated hearing loss have such a large impact on our overall health expenses? The answer lies in how closely our hearing ties into our mental functioning and social wellness. Hearing loss doesn’t just affect what you hear. It also puts a strain on your mental and emotional health.

The average person with hearing loss had $22,400 in extra medical costs. Surprisingly, on average, only $600 of that total are expenses relating to hearing loss healthcare. What accounts for the additional $21,800? Researchers say it is the many health issues that can be made worse by untreated hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss makes people more vulnerable to dementia, mental decline, falling, depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Hearing loss has also been linked with a higher risk of other serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Your Hearing and Your Brain

When you can’t hear well, you place stress on the mental functioning of your brain. Your mind has to work harder and longer to piece together context and meaning from the pieces of what you can hear. To do this, the mind has to pull cognitive resources away from other tasks and use them to process and understand incoming sounds.

When hearing loss is not getting treatment, you shortchange the rest of your cognitive functioning. This has widespread health effects. When the focus is redirected to hearing, even basic cognitive processes can be pushed aside, such as our balance and coordination. People with untreated hearing loss are far more likely to have a serious fall than people with healthy hearing. Hearing loss can tip the balance of our overall cognitive health, significantly increasing the risk of developing dementia and exacerbating cognitive problems.

Your Hearing and Your Quality of Life

The communication problems that go hand in hand with unaddressed hearing loss increase our risk of conditions that worsen our overall health and diminish our quality of life. Hearing loss can cause a person to drift away from the social patterns and communication they should and once did enjoy. For example, things like avoiding get-togethers and phone calls. This raises the risk of social isolation. Alongside isolation, the difficulty of navigating the world with hearing problems greatly increases anxiety. Communication and social issues are also behind a higher risk of depression. There is also a long list of health issues that can stem from it.

Healthier Hearing Today

Truly, the role our hearing plays in overall health is critical. The effects of unaddressed hearing loss certainly add up! Fortunately, hearing loss can be managed effectively with hearing aids and assistive devices. At Hearing Group, we see the impact of connecting people with hearing health solutions every day. If you’ve recently noticed a change in how you hear, now is the time to take action and schedule a hearing test. Want to find out more? Contact Hearing Group today!

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: December 26, 2018

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