Father and son sitting on couch

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

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some magnitude of hearing loss.
  • Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment.
  • Of those who do seek treatment, they’ll procrastinate 5 to 7 years prior to getting a hearing test.
  • Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll wait, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to investing in hearing aids.

So, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing assessment, 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 forfeit healthier hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that do get help will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a better standard of living.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care field, these numbers are quite frustrating. You’ve most likely came into the profession to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the majority of individuals won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s an issue.

The question is, why do millions of people across the US deny their hearing loss or avoid pursuing help?

In our experience, we’ve discovered the most common factors to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss as a rule develops in minor increments over many years and isn’t noticeable at any one moment in time. For example, 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 frequent type) principally impacts higher frequency sounds. As a result, you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, generating 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 diagnosed by visual evaluation and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or discomfort. The only way to appropriately quantify hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

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

Only a small percentage of family physicians regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be apparent in a tranquil office atmosphere, so your physician may have no reason to even suspect hearing loss—not to mention they may not be trained in its proper assessment.

5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for

If you have hearing loss, there are different ways to boost sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the television or require people to shout or repeat themselves. But not only does this method work poorly, it also passes the burden of your hearing loss onto others.

If individuals can triumph over these barriers, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the price of hearing aids (although it’s dropping), and the perception that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely incorrect).

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

Overcoming the Barriers to Better 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 prevalent health problems in the US. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, too.
  2. Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
  3. Get a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by getting a professional hearing exam.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – modern-day hearing aids have been verified to be effective, and with a variety of models and styles to pick 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 researched 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 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

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 flipped, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss 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 post and help reverse the trend.