Obstacles to Treating Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States, affecting more than 10 percent of Americans. However,  according to a recent Merck Manuals survey of more than 2,000 Americans, 59 percent of respondents say they rarely think about hearing loss, while 86 percent of Americans mention participating in one or more of the following noisy activities over the course of the past year:

  • Listening to audio through headphones or earbuds
  • Landscaping with a power mower, weed whacker or leaf blower
  • Attending a concert or professional sporting event

The same percentage (86 percent) admitted that they do understand hearing damage can occur by participating in such activities, but only 64 percent say they take measures to protect their hearing. Part of the nonchalance over hearing loss is the fact that many Americans don't believe hearing loss is an issue at a young age; in fact, 43 percent of adults under the age of 34 believe hearing loss in young adults is rare.

Americans who have family members with hearing loss are more likely to take the issue seriously, and two thirds of those surveyed said the realize hearing loss can run in families. Nearly the same number said that they believed getting hearing aids can be essential to quality of life, but the older the respondent, the more likely they were to believe hearing aids are affordable. Many Americans who need hearing aids wait up to 15 years to look into options, and only around 20 percent who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them on a regular basis. One in five people cited their reason for not wearing their hearing aids as embarrassment.

Almost all obstacles to treating hearing loss can be overcome with education and encouragement. While some may find admitting to having hearing loss to be stigmatizing, many others find that seeking treatment can be liberating, improve self esteem, and lead to greater self confidence and independence.

Almost all obstacles to treating hearing loss can be overcome with education and encouragement. While some may find admitting to having hearing loss to be stigmatizing, many others find that seeking treatment can be liberating, improve self esteem, and lead to greater self confidence and independence.