Patients With Untreated Hearing Loss Incur Higher Health Care Costs Over Time

Patients With Untreated Hearing Loss Incur Higher Health Care Costs Over Time

In Health, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Research by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

Many people put off addressing a hearing loss, despite issues hearing in their everyday life. This may be in part due to hearing loss’s slow nature in which it develops. At it’s start hearing loss is so subtle that it may be hard to notice it’s there at all. You may not realize your missing sounds till someone refers to it, such the breeze in the trees or the chirping of birds – and you just don’t hear it. Over years, as your brain becomes accustomed to living with the hearing deficit it tends to normalize it. Many are surprised when they first where hearing aids for the first time, at just how many sounds they have been missing.

On average it takes people seven to ten years from the time they suspect they have a hearing loss to take action and seek treatment. At this point many of the dangerous side effects of unaddressed hearing loss have already set in. Aside from hearing losses effect on your relationship at work, home life and with friends, hearing loss can have a serious impact on your overall health and may even increase your likeliness of hospitalization.

A recent study has found that in fact, patients with untreated hearing loss have poorer overall health than those with normal hearing, and they incur higher healthcare costs over time.

Hearing Loss and Healthcare

A 2016 study from the Medical University of South Carolina compiled data from approximately o561,000 patients between 55 to 64 years of age. By analyzing the study participants’ healthcare bills and insurance claims for 18 months they found that those who had hearing loss had noticeably higher healthcare costs! While patients with technically normal hearing spent approximately $10,629 on healthcare, those with hearing loss spent $14,165 on healthcare. That’s a 33.3% increase in healthcare costs in just 18 months. Most notably, the study noted that the age group of the study was only on the verge of being considered technically senior.

Hearing Loss and Your Health

Healthy and clear communication affects more than just your hearing ability. It can have far reaching implications for your physical and mental wellbeing. When you struggle to hear the people in your life it’s more than misunderstandings and confusions. It’s an impact on your well-being. Humans are social creatures and when we struggle to hear it affects how we can truly connect. In the place of strained relationships is chronic depression and social anxiety.

Depression is more than just a sour mood. When we are chronically depressed, we are less likely to stay active, take an interest in our health and make healthy choices including what we eat and what we consume. It’s likely that with depression comes the loss of muscle mass and an increased risk of diabetes or heart disease. With a lack of social connection also comes less cognitive stimulation. A decrease in social connection has been associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Less Awareness of Space

We don’t only hear to communicate, but to stay alert in our environment. This means we are less likely to be able to react quickly when an emergency strikes. This can include a quick approaching biker or car. It may mean we are less aware of the jingle of a pet colar, tripping over the family cat, or are likely to respond less quickly when someone warns you of danger. For this reason people with hearing loss are more likely to fall or have acidents which lead to hospitalizations.

Why Does Hearing Loss Lead to Higher Healthcare Bills?

Not only does hearing loss lead to higher risks of depression and less awareness of space. One of the major reasons hearing loss has such high healthcare costs is poor communication. Not only is it difficult to communicate with your loved ones but doctors and nurses too. This means that you may be prone to miss understanding instructions from doctors and nurses. Hearing issues may prevent you from receiving the appropriate treatment for your condition. In fact, people with hearing loss are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Treating Hearing Loss

The sooner you treat hearing loss, the sooner you can get the treatment you need. Stay healthy for longer with hearing aids! Schedule a hearing aid today!

Bary E. Williams Au.D.
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