The intriguing thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—maybe longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million individuals, have some magnitude of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
- Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis prior to investing in hearing aids.
That means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before acquiring hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will go without improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have sacrificed 15 years of better hearing and a better standard of living.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care profession, these numbers are bothersome. You’ve likely got into the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even attempt to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of individuals deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?
In our experience, we’ve found the most common reasons to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss as a rule builds up in minor increments over many years and isn’t perceptible at any one specific moment in time. For instance, you’d become aware of an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most widespread form) principally has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That implies you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the perception that your hearing is normal. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may believe the speaker is mumbling when, in reality, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and painless
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual examination and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only method to properly quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not considered by most family doctors
Only a small percentage of family doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be recognizable in a quiet office setting, so your physician may have no reason at all to even suspect hearing loss—not to mention they may not be trained in its proper evaluation.
5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are various ways to amplify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or require people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this method work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto others.
If individuals can surmount these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the price of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the belief that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely incorrect).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many individuals wait to treat their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Obstacles to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, as well.
- Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Obtain a hearing exam – hearing loss is difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by obtaining a professional hearing exam.
- Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been shown to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your price range.
In regard to hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study examined three popular hearing aid models and determined that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
The research reveals that hearing aids are effective, but what do hearing aid users have to say? According to the MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
Help Reverse the Statistics
In summary, of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will search for treatment, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ overall performance.
But what if the statistics were reversed, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an additional 28 million people in the US could experience all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.