Father and son sitting on couch

The curious thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t acknowledge it or seek treatment for at least five to seven years—perhaps longer.

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million people, have some magnitude 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 getting a hearing test.
  • Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the formal diagnosis before buying hearing aids.

So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will search for treatment. And those 4 individuals will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing exam, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.

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

Resistance to Getting Help

If you work in the hearing care business, these statistics are discouraging. You’ve probably entered the industry to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even admit there’s an issue.

The question is, why do millions of people deny their hearing loss or avoid seeking help?

In our experience, we’ve observed the most common reasons to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss in most cases develops in small increments over many years and isn’t perceptible at any one specific instant. For example, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily perceive a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical type) mainly has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That suggests you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is healthy. The problem is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, in reality, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is invisible and painless

Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be detected by visual evaluation 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 evaluated by most family doctors

Only a low percentage of family physicians regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be recognizable in a tranquil office setting, so your doctor 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 various ways to intensify sounds: you can crank-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 others.

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 simply don’t work (completely incorrect).

With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they deal with 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 others do the same:

  1. Know the odds – hearing loss is among the most common health issues in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, too.
  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. Obtain a hearing exam – hearing loss is hard to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by obtaining a professional hearing exam.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been proven to be effective, and with so many models and styles to pick from, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your price range.

Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study analyzed three prominent hearing aid models and determined 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 search for 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 reversed, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an additional 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.