audiologist giving patient test

Why People Avoid Treating Hearing Loss — and Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test!

Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A

Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common medical condition people experience today? Over 48 million people (or 1 in 6) have some degree of impaired hearing. Even though hearing loss is pervasive, it remains widely undertreated. In fact, only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Untreated hearing loss can have multifaceted effects on everyday life. It strains communication and can take a toll on relationships, work life, and social life. Untreated hearing loss also increases several health risks. This highlights the importance of seeking treatment and intervening early. Treating hearing loss offers countless life changing benefits that transform quality of life. 

Hearing Loss is Often Undertreated 

It takes an average of 7 years for people to address their hearing loss symptoms. Numerous studies show a widespread inaction when it comes to hearing loss. This includes a study conducted by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association that investigated the undertreatment of hearing loss. This study involved surveying a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,500 adults about their hearing loss. Key findings include: 

  • 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared to 6 in 10 adults who have had their vision tested. 
  • More than 51% of people reported hearing issues but only 11% have sought treatment. 
  • 78% of those with hearing issues have been experiencing these challenges for 1 or more years, and over 35% have had trouble for 5 or more years. 

These findings show a delay in treatment, even when symptoms have been experienced for an extended time. This supports further research that highlights a deprioritization of hearing health. 

Why Treatment is Avoided

It is important to understand why treatment for hearing loss tends to be avoided. There are a few reasons that illuminate delayed treatment including: 

  • Symptoms are undetected: hearing loss typically occurs gradually so symptoms may be overlooked for quite some time. People may not notice they are experiencing hearing loss at first because of the slow onset. This underscores the importance of having your hearing assessed regularly. Hearing tests are able to detect even the slightest degrees of hearing loss. 
  • Misconceptions: there are numerous misconceptions about it that contribute to delayed treatment. This includes that it is not a permanent condition, it can be cured and dealt with later, it only impacts older adults etc. These misconceptions minimize the seriousness of hearing loss and encourage people to wait to address their symptoms. 
  • Stigma: though hearing loss is common, there is still stigma associated with it that can also contribute to not addressing symptoms. People may feel embarrassed about their hearing loss and not be open to discussing it. It can also be tough to acknowledge changes to health which can lead to ignoring symptoms. 

These factors contribute to the inaction of hearing loss. Untreated symptoms can take a toll on health, relationships, and overall wellness. It is important to intervene as early as possible.  

Schedule a Hearing Test Today

Hearing loss treatment is accessible and painless. The first step towards treating hearing loss is scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests are conducted by hearing healthcare specialists that have extensive training in identifying impaired hearing. This involves a noninvasive process that measures hearing capacity in both ears which identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment you are experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to meet those needs. 

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process speech as well as sound. This provides the ears and brain with ample support, alleviating symptoms and maximizing hearing capacity. Today’s hearing aids are more innovative than ever before. There is a range of styles, features, and technologies that are designed to support your hearing in everyday environments. Your hearing healthcare provider will help you navigate your options to ensure that you choose a device that is optimal for your hearing needs. 

Contact us today to learn more about hearing loss treatment and to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. We look forward to helping you prioritize your hearing health.