The curious thing about hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you likely won’t acknowledge it or seek treatment for at least five to seven years—possibly longer.
- 20 percent of the US 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 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 official diagnosis prior to acquiring hearing aids.
This means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will search for treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing exam, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.
That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a greater quality of life.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care field, these statistics are disheartening. You’ve likely came into the industry to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of people won’t even try to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s an issue.
The question is, why do so many individuals throughout the US deny their hearing loss or abstain from pursuing help?
We’ve discovered the top explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss most often builds up in minor increments over several years and isn’t evident at any one moment in time. For example, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most prevalent type) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. As a result, you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the feeling that your hearing is healthy. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may believe the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual evaluation and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to properly 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 routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be obvious in a quiet office setting, so your doctor may have no reason at all 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 other methods to magnify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or require people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this approach work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If people can surmount these hurdles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the expense 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 treat it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Roadblocks to Better Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most common 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, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and the majority 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 – the latest hearing aids have been found to be effective, and with so many models and styles to pick from, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your price range.
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 shows 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, 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 flipped, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss took action and sought treatment? That would mean an additional 28 million people in the US could obtain all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.
Share this article and help reverse the trend.