Overcoming the Barriers to Treating Your Hearing Loss
The intriguing thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t recognize it or seek treatment for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.
- 20 percent of the United States 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 wait 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 getting 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 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring hearing aids.
That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit healthier hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a better standard of living.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care field, these numbers are discouraging. You’ve likely entered the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even admit there’s a problem.
The question is, why do so many people across the United States deny their hearing loss or avoid seeking help?
In our experience, we’ve identified the most common reasons to be:
1. Hearing loss is progressive
Hearing loss in general builds up in minor increments over several years and isn’t detectable at any one particular moment in time. For example, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical kind) principally has an effect on higher frequency sounds. As a result, you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the feeling that your hearing is normal. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.
3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible
Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual examination and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to appropriately measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).
4. Hearing loss is not considered by most family physicians
Only a low percentage of family doctors regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be apparent in a quiet office atmosphere, so your doctor 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 alternative ways to boost 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 passes the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can overcome these obstacles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the expense of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the belief that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely erroneous).
With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they treat it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Overcoming the Obstacles to Better Hearing
Here’s how you can conquer the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:
- Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most predominant health problems in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, too.
- Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, and so are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US use hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – contemporary hearing aids have been shown to be effective, and with so many models and styles to pick from, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your price range.
Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study assessed 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 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, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ all-around performance.
But what if the statistics were inverted, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an additional 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.