The intriguing thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you likely won’t recognize it or seek care for at least five to seven years—possibly longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some extent of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
- Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to receiving a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll hold out, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis before investing in hearing aids.
So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying hearing aids.
As a result,, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forfeit improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help 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 demoralizing. You’ve likely entered the industry to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals won’t even attempt to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s a problem.
The question is, why do so many individuals throughout the United States deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?
We’ve identified the top explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss generally develops in minor increments over many years and isn’t recognizable at any one moment in time. For example, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most widespread form) primarily affects higher frequency sounds. That implies you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the impression that your hearing is normal. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, in fact, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and pain-free
Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual examination and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only method to appropriately quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family doctors
Only a small percentage of family physicians regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be obvious in a silent office environment, 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 easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are alternative ways to intensify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or force people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this method work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto others.
If people can rise above these hurdles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the belief that hearing aids simply don’t work (completely erroneous).
With so many barriers, it’s no wonder why so many individuals wait to treat 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 other people do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions 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 the majority 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 getting a professional hearing exam.
- Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been demonstrated to be effective, and with a multitude of models and styles to choose 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 tested 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 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, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their performance.
But what if the statistics were inverted, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an additional 28 million people in the US could enjoy all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.
Share this article and help reverse the trend.