The curious thing concerning 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—potentially longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million people, have some level of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
- Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years prior to receiving a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to obtaining hearing aids.
So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will search for treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will go without better 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 business, these statistics are bothersome. You’ve probably joined the profession to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals won’t even try to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of people deny their hearing loss or abstain from pursuing help?
We’ve found the top factors to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss ordinarily develops in small increments over several years and isn’t obvious at any one specific instant. For example, you’d become aware of 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 kind) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. As a result, you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating 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 fact, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and pain-free
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual evaluation and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to appropriately quantify 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 physicians regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be noticeable in a silent office environment, so your physician 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 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 burden of your hearing loss onto others.
If people can conquer these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), 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 surprise why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t need 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:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most predominant health conditions in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, too.
- Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear 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 certain is by obtaining a professional hearing exam.
- Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been demonstrated to be effective, and with so many models and styles, 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 assessed three popular 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, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their 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 obtain all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.