Confronting Hearing Loss

Confronting Hearing Loss

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that while approximately 28.8 million adults could benefit from using hearing aids, only about 30% of them have actually used them.

Meanwhile, hearing loss remains one of the leading chronic health conditions in the United States. As the global estimation of hearing loss cases is projected to trend upward, learn more about why confronting hearing loss is a sound investment. 

Hearing Loss 101

Hearing loss is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can significantly impact one’s quality of life, communication abilities, and emotional well-being. One in three people over the age of 65 has hearing loss, and the leading cause of hearing loss in older people is due to the natural aging process. 

Unlike conductive hearing loss (defined as an obstruction or problem with the outer ear) which is often reversible, sensorineural hearing loss (which impacts the inner ear or nerve) resulting from aging or noise exposure is often both progressive and permanent.

However, this type of hearing loss is also highly treatable. 

The Obstacles To Treatment

In a 2021 survey from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, respondents who experienced hearing difficulties overwhelmingly stated that they would seek treatment if their condition became severe. However, even mild untreated hearing loss dramatically increases one’s risk for future cognitive issues, negative emotional impact and an increased likelihood of physical injury. 

Most experts, including the Lancet Commission on Dementia, recommend treating hearing loss as soon as it appears. However, there appears to be miscommunication or general confusion preventing that message from reaching the general public. 

The World Health Organization estimates that only around 17% of those who could benefit from hearing aids worldwide actually use them. This suggests that a significant proportion of people with hearing loss have yet to seek treatment or utilize hearing aids.

Among older Americans, the demographic who may be even more in need of hearing assistance, NIDCD estimates that among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss, only 30% have used hearing aids. 

The Cost Of Hearing Loss Treatment

Price remains another often cited reason that people with hearing loss forgo treatment. Unfortunately, only a percentage of health insurance providers extend coverage to hearing health issues. But the tide on that front may be shifting as certain states have passed legislation requiring hearing health intervention. Additionally, a number of states also provide hearing loss solutions to residents with Medicaid benefits. 

Hearing aids and other hearing loss solutions can be costly, but it might help to think of it as an investment in your health and wellbeing. In a study from Johns Hopkins, researchers found that people with untreated hearing loss actually spent considerably more money on healthcare costs over a period of ten years, versus those without hearing loss. 

The Stigma Of Hearing Loss

Even though people have fought tirelessly to educate the public on hearing loss and its ubiquity, there is still an old-fashioned stigma attached to hearing loss. Many people shy away from confronting their hearing health decline because it’s associated with old age. It might feel like wearing a hearing aid in public is like wearing a button that announces your birthdate. 

Thanks to the computer revolution at the end of the last century, today’s hearing aids have little in common with those our grandparents used to wear. They’re smarter, sleeker and more powerful than ever. Many are almost imperceptible. 

The technological advances didn’t just shrink their size, they also amped up their usefulness. Now, with digital audio, many hearing aids contain programs that filter out background noise and amplify speech. In other words, they’re very good at honing in on what you do want to hear and ignoring what you don’t, which is much how the human brain works in a healthy hearing situation. 

Dealing With Reality

One of the most powerful reasons to confront hearing loss is to regain and retain a sense of autonomy in life. While it might be an unpleasant reality to face, most of us will encounter hearing loss at some point. It might be in ourselves, parents, partners or friends. 

Instead of ignoring a problem which is wreaking havoc on your life and in your relationships, it can feel liberating and brave to finally confront hearing loss. 

Schedule A Hearing Consultation

If you are ready to begin the process of prioritizing your hearing health, schedule a hearing consultation with us today.