The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss and Increased Healthcare Costs

December 21, 2018 2

Over the past few years, we’ve learned that hearing loss can be linked to other health issues as well. In addition to hearing loss being frustrating to the person living with untreated hearing loss, recent research from John Hopkins concluded that hearing loss is also linked to walking and balance problems, falls and even Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Hearing Loss Facts

According to a Johns Hopkins study that took place over a 12 year period involving 639 adults, mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate hearing loss tripled dementia risk, and people with a severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia. According to Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., leading the study for Johns Hopkins, “Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain. Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia,” says Lin.

Based on several studies produced by top healthcare institutions over the past few years, we’ve been able to conclude that hearing loss itself is a health risk, but it is also the conduit for additional health problems. Simply speaking, older adults living with untreated hearing loss are more prone to developing other serious health problems. These additional health issues are leading to more frequent hospitalizations and higher health costs, when compared to those people without hearing loss, or people who have treated their hearing loss with hearing instruments.

According to Nicholas Reed of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, “There are two potential causes linking hearing loss to higher healthcare spending and utilization. The first is that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline, dementia, depression and social isolation –all of which could contribute to higher healthcare spending and use. The second is that patient-provider communication could be hampered by untreated hearing loss.”

Hearing Loss Questions & Treatment

The big question then becomes: Can hearing aids reduce these risks and help to eliminate the increased healthcare costs associated with untreated hearing loss? According to Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., “What we do know is that there’s no downside to using hearing aids. They help most people who try them, and in those people, they can make all the difference in the world –allowing people to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.”

There are studies taking place now with the intension of showing proof that hearing aids do in fact help save in prolonged healthcare costs for people with hearing loss. Proof that treating hearing loss could improve health for older adults might help change the way we view hearing aids as a medical necessity.

According to David Loughrey of the University of California, San Francisco, and Trinity College Dublin, “If clinical trials can demonstrate that treatment of hearing loss can help adults maintain their health and delay or prevent dementia this would have significant implications for public health policy. The cost of treating hearing loss would need to be measured against the cost of treating health conditions such as dementia which is estimated to cost $1 trillion in 2018 globally, increasing to $2 trillion by 2030.”

What we do know is that hearing aids do not cause harm and they do help to lower the chances of early-onset dementia, as well as lowering the risk of falls and social isolation. If you’re ready to explore healthy hearing, contact Physicians Hearing Solutions today.

Hearing Loss Help

At Physicians Hearing Solutions, all of our hearing healthcare professionals are fully licensed and trained in providing each patient with the best hearing healthcare options available. We want you to know you can trust that you are getting the highest quality hearing healthcare each time you come to see us. Our goal is to improve your quality of life through providing you with the quality hearing healthcare you deserve. We offer complimentary complete Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations. Please don’t wait, call today, (401) 921-0181 Warwick, Rhode Island office, (401) 435-5355 East Providence, Rhode Island office.


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