The interesting thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t recognize it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—maybe longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million individuals, 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 before receiving a hearing test.
- Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll hold out, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis before acquiring hearing aids.
That means, 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 hearing test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring 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 wasted 15 years of better hearing and a better standard of living.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care industry, these numbers are disheartening. You’ve likely came into the industry to help people—and with modern 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 a problem.
The question is, why do so many individuals across the United States deny their hearing loss or abstain from pursuing help?
In our experience, we’ve found the most common explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss in most cases develops in small increments over several years and isn’t recognizable at any one instant. For instance, you’d recognize 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 widespread kind) mainly impacts higher frequency sounds. That means 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 feel that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible
Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual assessment and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or discomfort. 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 regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be apparent 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 assessment.
5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are other ways to amplify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or force people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto others.
If individuals can overcome these barriers, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s decreasing), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely incorrect).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many people wait to treat their hearing loss, if they 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 overcome the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Know 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 unlikely that you may, as well.
- Acknowledge 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 difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by getting a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been verified 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 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 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 the majority of 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 enjoy all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.
Share this article and help reverse the trend.