The intriguing thing about hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out care for at least five to seven years—possibly longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some level of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment.
- Of those who do seek treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to getting a hearing test.
- Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis before getting hearing aids.
As a consequence, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will search for treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before buying a hearing aid.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will go without better hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a better quality of life.
Resistance to Finding Help
If you work in the hearing care profession, these numbers are bothersome. You’ve most likely entered the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of people won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even admit there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of people throughout the United States deny their hearing loss or avoid seeking help?
We’ve discovered the most common factors to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss as a rule develops in small increments over many years and isn’t perceptible at any one instant. For example, you’d notice a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most common kind) mainly impacts higher frequency sounds. That suggests you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the perception that your hearing is normal. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may feel that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and painless
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual evaluation and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only method to appropriately measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by the majority of family doctors
Only a small percentage of family physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be noticeable in a tranquil office atmosphere, so your physician may have no reason at all to even suspect hearing loss—and they may not even be trained in its proper assessment.
5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are alternative ways to intensify sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the TV or require people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also shifts the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can surmount these hurdles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely erroneous).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many individuals wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t need to be that way…
Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most prevalent health issues in the United States. 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, and so 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 discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – modern hearing aids have been proven to be effective, and with a multitude 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 assessed three prominent hearing aid models and concluded that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
The research reveals that hearing aids are highly 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
Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ overall performance.
But what if the statistics were flipped, 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 benefits of better hearing.
Share this article and help reverse the trend.