5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss
It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before seeking a professional diagnosis, despite the reality that the warning signs of hearing loss are apparent to other people. But are those with hearing loss merely too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a couple of specific reasons.
Perhaps you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the problem or refuses to seek professional help, and even though this is no doubt frustrating, it is very possible that the warning signs of hearing loss are much more clear to you than they are to them.
Here are the reasons why:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
In most instances, hearing loss develops so slowly and gradually that the afflicted individual simply doesn’t realize the change. While you would detect an instantaneous change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (defined as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t notice the minuscule change of a 1-2 decibel loss.
So a slow loss of 1-2 decibels over 10-20 years, while causing a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be noticeable at any given moment in time for those afflicted. That’s why friends and family are nearly always the first to notice hearing loss.
2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)
The majority of hearing loss examples are categorized as high-frequency hearing loss, meaning that the afflicted person can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. Whereas speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is difficult for those with hearing loss to comprehend, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s common for those with hearing loss to state, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”
3. Hearing loss is not addressed by the family doctor
Individuals struggling with hearing loss can attain a false sense of well-being following their yearly physical. It’s typical to hear people say “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”
This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians consistently test for hearing loss during the annual checkup. Not to mention that the prime symptom for most cases of hearing loss — trouble following speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a silent office environment.
4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others
How do you address hearing loss when there’s no cure? The answer is simple: amplify sounds. The problem is, even though hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to accomplish it — which individuals with hearing loss quickly identify.
Those with hearing loss regularly crank up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. Tv sets and radios are played excessively loud and people are made to either shout or repeat themselves. The person with hearing loss can manage just fine with this technique, but only by passing on the burden to friends, family members, and colleagues.
5. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible
Hearing loss is predominately subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visual investigation and it generally is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If individuals with hearing loss do not perceive a problem, chiefly because of the reasons above, then they most likely won’t take action.
The only way to properly diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will quantify the precise decibel level hearing loss at numerous sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively determine whether hearing loss is present, but the difficult part is needless to say getting to that point.
How to approach those with hearing loss
Hopefully, this entry has manufactured some empathy. It is always exasperating when someone with hearing loss refuses to accept the problem, but keep in mind, they may legitimately not grasp the extent of the problem. Instead of commanding that they get their hearing examined, a more productive strategy may be to educate them on the properties of hearing loss that make the condition practically invisible.