Do you have hearing loss? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly 466 million people live with hearing loss worldwide. The shocking news is that they fear this number will rise to nearly 900 million by 2050 if things don’t change around understanding the risks of hearing loss and the importance of treatment.
The Cost of a Decreased Quality of Life with Untreated Hearing Loss
When you consider how hearing loss affects the global community it’s hard to quantize it. It’s a communication issue at its root but also affects how we navigate the world and can add up into serious medical bills in some nonlinear ways. For instance, the cost of hearing loss isn’t just how we hear or communicate but the cost of decreased quality of life as relationships in every corner of a life become strained due to miscommunication.
Associated Medical Costs of Untreated Hearing Loss
Meanwhile other costs are more solidly commodified such as the medical costs not just for treating hearing, but the consequences of not treating it. This includes the physical, metal, and cognitive impacts of hearing loss. For instance, depending on the degree of untreated hearing loss an individual is living with, it directly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Those with dementia require 24-hour care, putting that burden on family and loved ones. Hearing loss also compromises balance and sense of space, increasing the risk of falls and accidents leading to higher rates of hospitalizations for people of all ages.
A Loss in Productivity
Hearing loss can also impact earnings and success in the workplace. Hearing loss often starts gradually so it’s often difficult to self-diagnose. However, your co-workers and employers will start to notice. Confusions due to miscommunications can start to build up into a decline in productivity and can even become a safety hazard as your reaction time is often longer, due to issues detecting sounds in your environment.
Quantizing the Cost
Though certainly a tall order, a 2019 study attempted to put a number on the annual global cost of hearing loss, and the result was a surprising $981billion in international equivalent value. This is close to one trillion dollars! So how did they come up with this number?
Understanding the Cost
It’s important to understand that hearing loss can occur to anyone of any age or economic background, however, factors of income can play a significant role in a person’s ability to address the issue. Around 57% of these global costs are incurred outside high-income areas. For instance, 23% of these costs occurred in East Asia alone, due in part to a large partially resulting from the large aging population in that region. The cost of untreated hearing loss is devastating for quality of life and people living without the means to acquire hearing treatment all too often go without. In the United States, hearing aids are still regarded as elective treatment, despite their life changing effects, forcing most to pay out of pocket. Imagine the impact on economically depressed parts of our country or throughout the world.
Breaking Down the Cost
So what are the main categories of cost considered in this study?
- First of all, untreated hearing loss made up 32 percent of global costs, leading to higher healthcare bills for related issues.
- Second consideration was decreased productivity accounting for 19% of the global cost due to communication and other problems associated with hearing loss.
- The third and largest portion comes from the intangible loss in quality of life. Researchers estimated that 47% of the total global cost of hearing loss comes from the years lived with a disability. While some of these costs can be measured, how do you fully understand the cost of living your life with chronic depression, anxiety, and social isolation due to communication barriers brought on by hearing loss?
The Importance of Treatment
While hearing loss is a permanent condition, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. These amazing devices can be programmed to amplify the sounds around you so you can hear the people in your life and your everyday world. Don’t wait around to discover the devastating cost of avoiding treatment. Contact us today to set up a hearing exam!