Hearing loss is the third most common chronic public health epidemic. Impacting millions of people, impaired hearing often occurs gradually, over a long period of time so it can be difficult to notice changes to hearing. This contributes to the under-treatment of hearing loss. There are numerous ways that people commonly overlook or ignore their hearing health. People typically make common excuses for not addressing any hearing loss and buying hearing aids. Not addressing this health concern can have significant consequences including worsening the impairment and overall health.
Hearing loss is a prevalent reality that millions of people are navigating on a daily basis. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):
- Nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears which is over 30 million people in the U.S.
- About 29 million people could benefit from using hearing aids
- Among adults with hearing loss:
- Age 70 and older: fewer than 1 in 3 (30%) has used hearing aids
- Age 20 to 69: less than 16% has used hearing aids
These statistics highlight just how pervasive hearing loss is and how it is significantly unaddressed. This reveals that people ignore symptoms and avoid caring for their hearing health.
There are many reasons and ways people avoid dealing with their hearing loss and buying hearing aids. Common excuses people make include the following:
- My hearing is fine: because hearing loss typically happens incrementally and people quickly adjust, impairment can go unnoticed. People may not be conscious of the gradual decline or that they are speaking louder and/or not hearing clearly. In addition to not being aware, it is common for people to be in denial. People may not want to acknowledge what is going on because they perceive it as their health slipping or simply another problem they do not want to deal with.
- I’m too young: one of the most common misconceptions of hearing loss is that it only affects older adults. Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including environmental exposure to loud noise, genetic history, and existing medical conditions. These factors can and are experienced by people of all ages. Millions of people are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace, experience injury and/or ear infections which can cause permanent damage, inherited mutated genes etc. Over 15% of adults, age 18 and higher, report trouble hearing.
- Hearing aids are too big: another common excuse people make to avoid addressing their hearing loss is that hearing aids are simply too bulky and will make them “look old”. However, like many electronic devices, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation over the years. There are a variety of options that are smaller and more advanced than ever. Hearing aids can be highly customized to meet your specific hearing needs, preferences, and lifestyle. This allows them to be easily used and integrated into your life.
These excuses can prevent people from addressing their hearing loss for quite some time. By delaying treatment and not being proactive about your hearing health, hearing loss can be exacerbated. Additionally, untreated hearing loss can contribute to the development of other health conditions.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you notice any changes, no matter how minor it may seem, it is critical to schedule an appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a relatively quick, noninvasive, and easy process that identifies any impairment, the degree, and type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. This information is utilized to establish the most effective treatment option to meet your specific hearing needs.
Hearing loss is most commonly treated with the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are electronic devices that are designed to absorb and amplify sound. Advanced technology has facilitated the development of a wide range of options that have various features allowing people to navigate various environments with greater ease and confidence. An increased ability to hear can enhance communication, social connectivity, and general well-being. This drastically improves the longevity and quality of one’s life!