The intriguing thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out treatment for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some degree 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 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 obtaining hearing aids.
So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some measure of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forfeit enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have sacrificed 15 years of better hearing and a greater standard of living.
Resistance to Finding Help
If you work in the hearing care profession, these numbers are quite frustrating. You’ve likely joined the profession to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of individuals across the US deny their hearing loss or avoid pursuing help?
We’ve observed the top factors to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss in general develops in small increments over many years and isn’t obvious at any one particular moment in time. For example, 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 typical kind) principally impacts higher frequency sounds. That implies you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is normal. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may feel that the speaker is mumbling when, in reality, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual assessment and it’s not normally accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to correctly quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family health practitioners
Only a small percentage of family physicians consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be apparent in a tranquil office atmosphere, so your physician may have no reason to even suspect hearing loss—and they may not even be trained in its proper evaluation.
5. Hearing loss is compensated for with ease
If you have hearing loss, there are various ways to magnify sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the television or force people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can surmount these hurdles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s decreasing), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely inaccurate).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can conquer the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most prevalent health issues in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, too.
- Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear 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 test.
- Learn about hearing aids – contemporary hearing aids have been shown to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles to pick from, 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 investigated 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? As reported by the MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
Help Reverse the Statistics
To summarize, of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their 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 obtain all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.