The curious thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t acknowledge it or seek treatment for at least five to seven years—possibly longer.
- 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 out treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll hold out, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to getting hearing aids.
This means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some extent of 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 test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forgo enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a superior quality of life.
Resistance to Finding Help
If you work in the hearing care sector, these statistics are discouraging. You’ve probably got into the industry to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the majority of individuals won’t even attempt 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 top factors to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss generally develops in small increments over many years and isn’t evident at any one specific instant. For instance, you’d notice a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical form) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That means you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the perception that your hearing is healthy. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may think the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is invisible and painless
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be detected by visual examination and it’s not normally 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 most family health practitioners
Only a low percentage of family doctors consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be obvious in a tranquil office setting, so your doctor 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 boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the television or compel people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this method work poorly, it also transfers the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If people can conquer these barriers, they still must confront the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely erroneous).
With so many obstacles, it’s no surprise why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they deal with it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Obstacles to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most predominant health conditions in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, as well.
- Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and the majority are satisfied.
- Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is hard to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by getting a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – contemporary hearing aids have been proven to be effective, and with so many models and styles to choose 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 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 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, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and most 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 took action and sought treatment? That would mean an additional 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.