The interesting thing about hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you probably won’t acknowledge it or seek out care for at least five to seven years—maybe longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million people, have some degree of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment.
- Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing test.
- Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll hold out, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to buying hearing aids.
As a consequence, 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 getting a 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 go without better hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a superior standard of living.
Resistance to Finding Help
If you work in the hearing care business, these statistics are bothersome. You’ve likely entered the industry to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s a problem.
The question is, why do so many individuals deny their hearing loss or avoid seeking help?
We’ve found the top reasons to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss normally develops in small increments over many years and isn’t detectable at any one particular moment in time. For instance, you’d recognize an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical kind) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That implies you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is healthy. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual evaluation and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to appropriately measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not considered by the majority of family physicians
Only a low percentage of family physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be apparent in a quiet office atmosphere, 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 compensated for with ease
If you have hearing loss, there are alternative methods to boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the TV or require people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this method work poorly, it also transmits the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can overcome these hurdles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the price of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely erroneous).
With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many people wait to treat their hearing loss, if they deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Obstacles to Better Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most widespread health issues in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, as well.
- Acknowledge 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.
- Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult 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 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 studied three popular 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 highly 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, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their performance.
But what if the statistics were flipped, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss took action and 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.