Father and son sitting on couch

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

The statistics:

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

That means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount 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 test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before purchasing a hearing aid.

That means, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forgo improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a greater standard of living.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care business, these numbers are bothersome. You’ve probably entered the profession 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 people deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?

We’ve found the top factors to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss as a rule develops in small increments over several years and isn’t evident at any one specific instant. For instance, you’d become aware of a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most frequent kind) principally has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That means you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may believe 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 discovered by visual assessment and it’s not ordinarily 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 considered by the majority of family physicians

Only a small percentage of family physicians consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be noticeable in a silent office atmosphere, so your physician may have no reason at all to even suspect hearing loss—not to mention they may not be trained in its proper evaluation.

5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for

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

If individuals can prevail over these obstacles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the belief that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely incorrect).

With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many people 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 Better Hearing

Here’s how you can conquer 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 United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable 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 wear hearing aids and the majority are satisfied.
  3. Obtain a hearing exam – hearing loss is difficult to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with so many models and styles, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your price range.

In regard to hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study researched three popular 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? According to the MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

Help Reverse the Statistics

In summary, 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 performance.

But what if the statistics were reversed, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an extra 28 million people in the US could enjoy all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.

Share this article 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.