Father and son sitting on couch

The interesting thing about hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US 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 treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years prior to receiving a hearing test.
  • Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis prior to acquiring hearing aids.

That means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a hearing assessment, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying 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 quality of life.

Resistance to Getting Help

If you work in the hearing care field, these statistics are bothersome. You’ve very likely got into the industry to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the majority of individuals won’t even try to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s an issue.

The question is, why do so many people across the United States deny their hearing loss or avoid seeking help?

In our experience, we’ve found the most common factors to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss usually develops in small increments over many years and isn’t recognizable at any one particular moment in time. For example, you’d notice a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t notice a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most common form) primarily impacts higher frequency sounds. That suggests you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the perception that your hearing is normal. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may believe the speaker is mumbling when, in fact, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual examination and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to correctly quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family physicians

Only a low percentage of family doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be obvious in a tranquil office environment, so your doctor 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 compensated for with ease

If you have hearing loss, there are alternative ways to boost sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or require people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also shifts the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.

If individuals can rise above these obstacles, they still must 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 erroneous).

With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many people wait to treat their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing

Here’s how you can conquer the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:

  1. Know the odds – hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, as well.
  2. Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
  3. Get a hearing exam – hearing loss is hard to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by getting a professional hearing exam.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – modern hearing aids have been verified 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 researched three popular hearing aid models and concluded 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, in spite of 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 sought treatment? That would mean an extra 28 million people in the US could obtain all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.

Share this post and help reverse the trend.

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