Father and son sitting on couch

The curious thing concerning hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you more than likely won’t recognize it or seek out care for at minimum five to seven years—potentially 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 treatment.
  • Of those who do seek out treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years before getting a hearing test.
  • Of those that obtain a hearing test, they’ll wait, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to getting hearing aids.

This means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount of 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 test, after which they’ll wait an additional 10 years before buying a hearing aid.

As a result,, in this sample of 100 individuals, 16 people will go without improved hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have wasted 15 years of better hearing and a greater standard of living.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care field, these numbers are demoralizing. You’ve most likely entered the profession to help people—and with modern-day technology you know you can—yet the majority of people won’t even try to enhance their hearing, or for that matter, even acknowledge there’s a problem.

The question is, why do so many people deny their hearing loss or avoid pursuing help?

We’ve discovered the top factors to be:

1. Hearing loss is progressive

Hearing loss usually develops in small increments over many years and isn’t detectable at any one specific moment in time. For example, you’d notice a sudden 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a year-to-year loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most frequent form) mainly has an effect on higher frequency sounds. That means you may be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. The trouble 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 pain-free and invisible

Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be discovered by visual assessment and it’s not usually 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 the majority of family physicians

Only a low percentage of family doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will most likely not be recognizable in a quiet office atmosphere, so your doctor may have no reason at all to even suspect hearing loss—and they may not even be trained in its proper assessment.

5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for

If you have hearing loss, there are other ways to magnify sounds: you can turn-up the volume of the TV or require people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this strategy work poorly, it also passes the burden 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 dropping), and the belief that hearing aids simply don’t work (entirely inaccurate).

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

Overcoming the Obstacles to Healthier Hearing

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

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is one of the most widespread health problems in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not unlikely that you may, too.
  2. Acknowledge 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. Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to discern and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – contemporary hearing aids have been proven to be effective, and with so many models and styles, there’s a pair that’s ideal for you and your budget.

Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study studied three prominent hearing aid models and concluded 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, despite 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 inverted, 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.