Father and son sitting on couch

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

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million individuals, have some magnitude 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 before obtaining a hearing test.
  • Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll hold out, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis prior to purchasing hearing aids.

So, 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 getting a hearing 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 forfeit enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a superior quality of life.

Resistance to Finding Help

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

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

We’ve found the top explanations to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss commonly develops in small increments over several years and isn’t recognizable at any one instant. For instance, you’d recognize 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 frequent form) mainly has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That suggests you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is healthy. The trouble 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 invisible and painless

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual examination and it’s not normally accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to properly quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family doctors

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 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 alternative ways to intensify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or force people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also transmits the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.

If people can triumph over these hurdles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s decreasing), and the belief that hearing aids simply don’t work (completely incorrect).

With so many barriers, 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 conquer the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most prevalent health problems in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, too.
  2. Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most 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 getting a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with so many models and styles to choose from, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your price range.

Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study analyzed three popular 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? 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 seek treatment, despite the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ overall performance.

But what if the statistics were reversed, 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 advantages of better hearing.

Share this post and help reverse the trend.