Hearing Loss in Middle-Aged Adults Leads to Substantially Higher Health Care Costs

earplugs protect you from hearing lossMiddle-Aged Adults With Hearing Loss Have Substantially Higher Health Care Costs

In a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, compared the costs of health care for privately insured individuals with and without a diagnosis of hearing loss.

This affects more than 60 percent of U.S. adults older than 70 years; the onset is gradual, with prevalence tripling from the age of 50 years to 60 years.

The authors found that individuals with a diagnosis had 33 percent higher health care payments (average, $14,165) during a 1.5-year time period compared to patients without loss (average, $10,629). “This finding indicates that negative health-related effects of hearing loss, a condition that many consider simply an unavoidable result of aging, may manifest earlier than is generally recognized and may affect use of health care across the continuum of care.”

Earplugs Help with Hearing Loss

In a related study, Netherlands researchers assessed the effectiveness of earplugs in preventing temporary loss of hearing immediately following music exposure.

The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the prevalence of adolescents with hearing loss has increased by 31 percent in the 2 decades since 1988. The authors found that the proportion of participants with a TTS, a measure of hearing loss, following sound exposure was only 8 percent in the earplug group compared with 42 percent in the unprotected group.

Researchers concluded that “the use of earplugs should be actively promoted and encouraged to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.”

Of course this all makes sense. My fellow boomers went to rock concerts unprotected by earplugs. They are now suffering loss of hearing. When you can’t hear as well, accidents happen. Accidents mean the need for healthcare. Ergo, healthcare costs go up. Bottom line – protect your ears and wear earplugs.