The interesting thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t acknowledge it or seek treatment for at minimum five to seven years—possibly 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 wait 5 to 7 years prior to getting a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to ordering 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 people will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit healthier hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a greater quality of life.
Resistance to Finding Help
If you work in the hearing care industry, these numbers are demoralizing. You’ve likely got into the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s a problem.
The question is, why do millions of individuals deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?
We’ve found the top explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss commonly builds up in small increments over several years and isn’t obvious at any one specific moment in time. For instance, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily perceive a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most frequent kind) principally affects higher frequency sounds. That means 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 feel that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible
Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be detected by visual evaluation and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to appropriately measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not considered by most family physicians
Only a low percentage of family doctors regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be noticeable in a quiet office setting, so your physician may have no reason 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 other ways to boost sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or compel people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this approach work poorly, it also passes the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.
If people can overcome these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the price of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely erroneous).
With so many barriers, it’s no surprise 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 conquer the barriers to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most common health issues 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 wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to recognize 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 demonstrated to be effective, and with so many models and styles, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your budget.
Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study researched three prominent hearing aid models and determined that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
The research shows 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 hearing aids’ all-around performance.
But what if the statistics were flipped, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an extra 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.