Father and son sitting on couch

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

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US 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 wait 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 established diagnosis prior to getting hearing aids.

This 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 test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before buying hearing aids.

That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will go without improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have lost 15 years of better hearing and a greater standard of living.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care industry, these numbers are demoralizing. You’ve probably came into the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the majority of individuals won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even admit there’s a problem.

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

In our experience, we’ve observed the most common explanations to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss in most cases develops in small increments over many years and isn’t obvious at any one instant. For instance, you’d recognize a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most frequent form) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That means you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the impression that your hearing is normal. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may think the speaker is mumbling when, in fact, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual evaluation and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to correctly measure 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 doctors regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be apparent in a tranquil office setting, 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 compensated for with ease

If you have hearing loss, there are alternative methods to magnify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or force people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto others.

If people can conquer these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the belief that hearing aids simply don’t work (completely inaccurate).

With so many obstacles, it’s no surprise why so many individuals wait to treat their hearing loss, if they treat it at all. But it doesn’t need to be that way…

Overcoming the Obstacles to Healthier Hearing

Here’s how you can overcome the barriers to better hearing and help others do the same:

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health issues in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, as well.
  2. 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.
  3. Get a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing exam.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been shown to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles to pick from, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your budget.

In regard to hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study assessed three prominent 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 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 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 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.

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