Father and son sitting on couch

The interesting thing about 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 US 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 out treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to obtaining a hearing test.
  • Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll wait, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis before ordering hearing aids.

That 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 hearing assessment, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.

As a result,, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will go without better hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have sacrificed 15 years of better hearing and a better quality of life.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care profession, these statistics are disheartening. You’ve very likely came into the industry to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s a problem.

The question is, why do millions of individuals deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?

In our experience, we’ve discovered the top factors to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss ordinarily builds up in minor increments over several years and isn’t evident at any one moment in time. For example, you’d become aware of a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most prevalent kind) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That suggests you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the impression that your hearing is normal. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may feel that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be detected by visual examination and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to correctly measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by most family doctors

Only a small percentage of family physicians 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 easily compensated for

If you have hearing loss, there are other methods to boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the television or force people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also shifts the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.

If people can rise above these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely incorrect).

With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t need to be that way…

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing

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

  1. Know the odds – hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, as well.
  2. Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and the majority are satisfied.
  3. Get a hearing test – hearing loss is hard to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by getting a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles to choose from, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your budget.

Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study investigated three prominent hearing aid models and determined 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

Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will search for treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ overall 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 extra 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.

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