Hearing Loss: Overcoming the Obstacles to Treatment
The intriguing thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t recognize it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—potentially longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million people, have some extent 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 formal diagnosis prior to acquiring hearing aids.
This means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some degree of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a hearing assessment, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying a hearing aid.
As a result,, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forfeit enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have sacrificed 15 years of better hearing and a superior quality of life.
Resistance to Getting 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 contemporary technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even attempt to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even admit there’s an issue.
The question is, why do millions of individuals deny their hearing loss or abstain from pursuing help?
We’ve found the top explanations to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss commonly builds up in small increments over several years and isn’t noticeable at any one specific instant. For example, you’d recognize an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily perceive a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical type) primarily affects higher frequency sounds. That implies you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating the impression that your hearing is healthy. The problem 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 very subjective: it can’t be detected by visual examination and it’s not normally accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to appropriately quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not assessed by the majority of family doctors
Only a low percentage of family physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be apparent in a silent office setting, so your physician may have no reason at all to even suspect hearing loss—and they may not even be trained in its proper evaluation.
5. Hearing loss is compensated for with ease
If you have hearing loss, there are different ways to boost sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the TV or compel people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also transfers the stress of your hearing loss onto others.
If people can surmount these barriers, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the belief that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely inaccurate).
With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder 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 Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing
Here’s how you can conquer the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among 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.
- Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Get a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to recognize 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 found to be effective, and with a multitude of models and styles to choose from, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your price range.
In regard to hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study examined 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 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 seek treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of 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 extra 28 million people in the US could experience all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.