The intriguing thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out treatment for at least five to seven years—possibly longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million individuals, have some level 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 receiving a hearing test.
- Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis before getting hearing aids.
So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some measure 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 test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before purchasing a hearing aid.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forgo enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help 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 field, these statistics are bothersome. You’ve most 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 enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s an issue.
The question is, why do so many individuals across the United States deny their hearing loss or avoid pursuing help?
We’ve discovered the most common factors to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss commonly develops in small increments over several years and isn’t obvious at any one specific moment in time. For example, you’d notice a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most common type) principally has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That implies you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the impression that your hearing is healthy. The problem 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 painless
Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual evaluation and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to appropriately quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not assessed by most family health practitioners
Only a small percentage of family physicians regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be noticeable in a quiet office environment, 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 assessment.
5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are alternative ways to boost sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or force people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also passes the burden of your hearing loss onto others.
If individuals can conquer these hurdles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the price of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (completely incorrect).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many people wait to treat their hearing loss, if they choose to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Obstacles to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most predominant health issues in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely 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 test – hearing loss is hard to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by getting a professional hearing exam.
- Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your price range.
In regard to hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study investigated 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? According to 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 search for treatment, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ overall performance.
But what if the statistics were inverted, 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 experience all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.