The intriguing thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you probably won’t acknowledge it or seek care for at minimum five to seven years—potentially longer.
- 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million individuals, have some amount 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 getting a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis before investing in 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 getting a test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before buying hearing aids.
As a result,, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a greater standard of living.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care business, these numbers are quite frustrating. 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 improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s a problem.
The question is, why do millions of people deny their hearing loss or avoid pursuing help?
In our experience, we’ve identified the most common reasons to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss commonly develops in minor increments over many years and isn’t recognizable at any one instant. For example, you’d recognize an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most prevalent kind) principally affects higher frequency sounds. That implies 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 invisible and pain-free
Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual examination and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only method to properly measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by the majority of family health practitioners
Only a low percentage of family physicians consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be obvious in a tranquil office atmosphere, so your doctor may have no reason to even suspect hearing loss—not to mention they may not be trained in its proper evaluation.
5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for
If you have hearing loss, there are other methods 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 tactic work poorly, it also shifts the burden of your hearing loss onto others.
If people can triumph over these barriers, 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 just don’t work (entirely erroneous).
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 have to be that way…
Overcoming the Roadblocks to Better Hearing
Here’s how you can conquer the obstacles to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most widespread health conditions in the US. 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, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is hard to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by getting a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – the latest 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 tested 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 highly 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
Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will search for treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their performance.
But what if the statistics were reversed, 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 article and help reverse the trend.