Are you one of the 48 million people in the US who has some degree of hearing loss. You may be and not even know it! Hearing loss often develops subtly and gradually over many years. It’s common for people to not realize the full extent of their hearing loss until they struggle to hear in even the most ideal of listening environments. Meanwhile, diagnosed or not, hearing loss can lead to frustration, confusion, and lack of awareness of surrounding environment. It’s common for hearing loss to make it difficult to participate in conversations and connect with loved ones and can make you start to feel as if life is passing you by.
However, hearing loss isn’t just a risk to your quality of communication and relationships. A recent study found that untreated hearing loss has some serious consequences for your physical health. The study found that patients with untreated hearing loss have worse overall health and tend to incur higher healthcare costs over time.
Hearing Loss and Healthcare
A 2016 study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina collected data from over 561,000 patients between 55 to 64 years of age. Over 18 months they collected and analyzed these patients’ healthcare bills and insurance claims. The finding revealed that people with hearing loss have notably higher healthcare costs! While it was revealed that patients with normal hearing spent approximately $10,629 on healthcare, patients with hearing loss spent $14,165 on healthcare. That’s a 33.3% increase in healthcare costs in just 18 months!
Hearing Loss and Your Health
Remember, hearing loss in most cases is irreversible, meaning that it will go on well past 18 months. This study wasn’t focused just on older adults. In fact, this study’s participants are considered middle aged, many still in the work force. Not only will hearing loss affect your professional and personal relationships but it contributes to chronic depression, sleep issues, loneliness and decreases physical activity. This contributes to a wide range of health threats which middle age and older adults are more susceptible to such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and dementia.
Why Does Hearing Loss Lead to Higher Healthcare Bills?
Our total health is connected, and hearing is a key sense which supports this. When any of our senses are compromised, we must compensate with the use of other senses. However, this takes a greater toll on cognitive functions. Activities, especially those with social components become much more exhausting than those of the past. You are more likely to duck out early or start avoiding all sorts of activities all together. With this comes depression, social anxiety, and isolation.
Issues Communicating with Medical Professionals
Medical professionals, from nurses, nurse practitioners, to doctors are here to help you feel better. Before they can help, they need to know what the issues are in your life and this requires communication. Even the best medical professionals have a lot on their plate and work long hours and see many patients. They are here to give you the best care they can provide but when you struggle to communicate it can be all too common to miss opportunities to explain and advocate for your medical situation.
You may mishear medical care instructions meaning higher rates of readmittance or not clearly communicate your problems in the first place. Doctor appointments can become incredibly stressful due to miscommunication issues. Unfortunately, the stress alone could contribute to you avoiding medical appointments and preventative care all together. Prevention is the key to long lasting health and once issues become severe enough that you can’t avoid them any longer there is also a much higher price point for your medical care.
Treating Hearing Loss
The key to a healthy lifestyle and body is total care and this includes your hearing health. If you suspect that you have a hearing loss, don’t delay in seeking treatment as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you have a hearing loss it’s still recommended that you test your hearing every 3-5 years, before the age of 60 and biannually after that. Staying on top of your hearing health can prevent so many problems down the road. To find out what we can do for you, your health, and your quality of life, schedule a hearing exam with us today!