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Overcoming Resistance to Treating Your Hearing Loss

April 28, 2016

Father and son sitting on couch

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

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million individuals, have some measure 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 prior to getting a hearing test.
  • Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis prior to purchasing hearing aids.

As a consequence, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have 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 hearing examination, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before acquiring a hearing aid.

As a result,, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will go without enhanced hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a greater quality of life.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care industry, these statistics are quite frustrating. You’ve most likely came into the industry to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the vast 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 deny their hearing loss or abstain from pursuing help?

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

1. Hearing loss is gradual

Hearing loss in general builds up in small increments over many years and isn’t perceptible at any one moment in time. For example, you’d become aware of an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t notice 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) mainly affects higher frequency sounds. That suggests you might 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 think the speaker is mumbling when, in reality, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible

Hearing loss is subjective: it can’t be diagnosed by visual assessment and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to correctly measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not evaluated by the majority of family doctors

Only a low percentage of family physicians consistently screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be noticeable in a tranquil 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 compensated for with ease

If you have hearing loss, there are other ways to boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the TV or require people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this tactic work poorly, it also transmits the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.

If individuals can rise above these obstacles, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely inaccurate).

With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many individuals wait to treat their hearing loss, if they choose to deal with it at all. But it doesn’t need to be that way…

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthier Hearing

Here’s how you can conquer the obstacles to better hearing and help others do the same:

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most common health problems 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 the majority are satisfied.
  3. Get a hearing exam – hearing loss is difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aidscontemporary hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with a multitude of 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 examined three popular 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

Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will search for treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and the majority of 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 took action and sought treatment? That would mean an additional 28 million people in the US could experience all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.

Share this article and help reverse the trend.

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