The intriguing thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t recognize it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million individuals, have some amount of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
- Of those who do seek treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis prior to acquiring 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 acquiring hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forgo better hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have lost 15 years of better hearing and a greater quality of life.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care profession, these numbers are demoralizing. You’ve very likely came into the industry to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of individuals across the United States deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?
In our experience, we’ve identified the top explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss commonly develops in minor increments over several years and isn’t recognizable at any one specific instant. For example, you’d recognize a sudden 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 common type) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That means you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the feeling that your hearing is normal. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may think the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and pain-free
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual examination and it’s not normally accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only method to properly measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family health practitioners
Only a low percentage of family doctors consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be obvious in a silent office atmosphere, 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 different ways to boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the television or force people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also shifts the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can prevail over these barriers, 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 just don’t work (completely erroneous).
With so many obstacles, it’s no surprise 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 Obstacles to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can conquer the barriers to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, too.
- Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and the majority are satisfied.
- Get a hearing exam – hearing loss is hard to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by getting a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – modern hearing aids have been shown to be effective, and with so many models and styles, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your budget.
Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study evaluated three prominent 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? As reported by 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 search for treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their performance.
But what if the statistics were reversed, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an extra 28 million people in the US could obtain all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.