Father and son sitting on couch

The curious thing about hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t acknowledge it or seek care for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some degree 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 official diagnosis prior to purchasing hearing aids.

That means, 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 obtaining a hearing examination, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.

As a result,, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will go without improved 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 Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care sector, these numbers are bothersome. You’ve very likely joined the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of individuals 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 individuals across the US deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?

In our experience, we’ve observed the top explanations to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss most often builds up in minor increments over several years and isn’t detectable at any one instant. For instance, you’d become aware of a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t perceive a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most typical type) principally impacts higher frequency sounds. That means you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is healthy. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may suspect that the speaker is mumbling when, in fact, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual evaluation and it’s not ordinarily accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to correctly quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not considered by most family health practitioners

Only a small percentage of family doctors consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be noticeable in a silent office environment, so your physician may have no reason 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 different ways to magnify sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or force people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also passes the burden of your hearing loss onto others.

If individuals can surmount these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s diminishing), the price of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the belief that hearing aids just don’t work (completely erroneous).

With so many obstacles, it’s no wonder why so many individuals wait to treat their hearing loss, if they decide to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t need 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 conditions in the US. 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 most are satisfied.
  3. Get a hearing test – hearing loss is hard to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for sure is by getting a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been demonstrated to be effective, and with a variety 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 reveals 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

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 performance.

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

Share this article and help reverse the trend.