Father and son sitting on couch

The interesting thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t acknowledge it or seek out treatment for at minimum five to seven years—possibly longer.

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million individuals, have some magnitude of hearing loss.
  • Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment.
  • Of those who do seek treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to receiving a hearing test.
  • Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll wait, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis before obtaining hearing aids.

So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some measure of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will search for treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a hearing test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.

That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit better hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have lost 15 years of better hearing and a better quality of life.

Resistance to Getting Help

If you work in the hearing care industry, these numbers are bothersome. You’ve likely joined the industry to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals won’t even try 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 abstain from pursuing help?

We’ve identified the top explanations to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss typically develops in small increments over many years and isn’t recognizable at any one particular moment in time. For example, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical type) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That implies you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the impression that your hearing is healthy. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, in reality, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is invisible and pain-free

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual assessment and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only method to properly 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 doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be noticeable in a tranquil office environment, so your physician may have no reason to even suspect hearing loss—and they may not even be trained in its proper assessment.

5. Hearing loss is compensated for with ease

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

If individuals can rise above these obstacles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (completely incorrect).

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 have to be that way…

Overcoming the Barriers to Healthier Hearing

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

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health conditions in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely 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 use hearing aids and most are satisfied.
  3. Obtain a hearing exam – hearing loss is difficult to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – contemporary hearing aids have been verified 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 studied 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, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of 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 enjoy all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.

Share this post and help reverse the trend.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.