Hearing Loss: Overcoming Resistance to Treatment
The curious thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t recognize it or seek out treatment for at minimum five to seven years—perhaps longer.
- 20 percent of the United States population, or 48 million people, have some degree of hearing loss.
- Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
- Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to receiving a hearing test.
- Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the established diagnosis prior to acquiring hearing aids.
This means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying a hearing aid.
As a result,, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will forfeit improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a superior quality of life.
Resistance to Getting Help
If you work in the hearing care field, these numbers are frustrating. You’ve most likely joined the profession to help people—and with modern technology you know you can—yet the majority of individuals won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s an issue.
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 found the most common reasons to be:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss commonly develops in minor increments over several years and isn’t detectable at any one particular moment in time. For instance, you’d become aware of an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 15 years.
2. Hearing loss is partial
High-frequency hearing loss (the most prevalent form) primarily has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That means you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the perception that your hearing is normal. The trouble is, speech is high-frequency, so you may think 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 examination and it’s not ordinarily 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 considered by most family health practitioners
Only a low percentage of family doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be apparent in a tranquil office environment, so your physician may have no reason 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 other 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 approach work poorly, it also passes the stress of your hearing loss onto other people.
If individuals can conquer these barriers, they still must face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the cost of hearing aids (although it’s decreasing), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (completely erroneous).
With so many barriers, it’s no wonder why so many people 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 Barriers to Better Hearing
Here’s how you can overcome the barriers to better hearing and help other people do the same:
- Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, too.
- Acknowledge your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
- Get a hearing exam – hearing loss is difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by getting a professional hearing test.
- Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been found to be effective, and with a multitude of models and styles to choose from, 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 analyzed three prominent 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 highly 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 the majority of people are satisfied with their performance.
But what if the statistics were inverted, 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 enjoy all of the physical, mental, and social benefits of better hearing.
Share this post and help reverse the trend.