Hearing loss is a pervasive chronic health issue that an estimated 48 million people experience today. Nearly 1 in 5 people have some degree of impaired hearing, making hearing loss the third most common medical condition in the United States. Though it is so widespread, we don’t often think about or actually know that much about hearing loss. There are various misconceptions about hearing loss that often contribute to why it continues to be underdiagnosed and untreated. This delay in treatment can worsen impairment and take a toll on daily life. Expanding your understanding about hearing loss can better help you prioritize your hearing health! 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss only impacts aging adults. 

Fact: This is one of the most common misconceptions about hearing loss. Though rates of hearing loss increase with age, as does the risk factor, people of all ages can and do experience hearing loss. There are several other factors that contribute to hearing loss that impact people of all ages including: exposure to loud noise, head/neck injuries, existing medical conditions etc. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20% of adults in their 20’s experience some degree of impaired hearing. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion children and young adults globally are at an increased risk of developing permanent hearing loss. 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss is not a serious condition that I need to address right away. 

Fact: People often ignore their hearing loss until it is severe enough that it disrupts daily life. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, an estimated 29 million adults could benefit from using hearing aids. This highlights the widespread inaction on hearing loss and delay in treatment. Additionally, in a study recently published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), 56% of people with untreated hearing issues said they were unlikely to treat it unless it was severe. Not only does this underscore undertreatment but it also highlights that people may not be aware of the significant impact of untreated hearing loss. 

Hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to absorb and process sound which produces a wide range of symptoms that can make daily life challenging. This includes straining communication, affecting relationships, job performance, social life, mental health etc. Untreated hearing loss also increases the risk of developing other health issues including cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. So it can really chip away at quality of life and wellness if untreated. 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss is curable. 

Fact: Another misconception that contributes to delayed treatment is the assumption that hearing loss is easily curable so it can wait to be dealt with. Hearing loss is not curable but is highly treatable. This means that hearing loss is a permanent, life-long, condition where one’s hearing is not restored by rather, supported. The most common way hearing is impaired is by damaged hair cells that are in the inner ear. These hair cells (unlike other types of cells) do not regenerate and there are no medical interventions that can repair them. So depending on the specific type of hearing loss and severity, there are treatment options that provide sustainable support for the auditory system. 

 

Fiction: Hearing aids are outdated and bulky. 

Fact: The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process incoming sound. The general misconception about hearing aids is that they are bulky, all too noticeable devices that are undesirable to wear. However, similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation. There is such a range of options with various features and technologies designed to enhance connectivity and easily integrate the device into daily life. There are sleek models, color options, and devices that are small and discreet. This wearable technology offers critical support that transforms hearing health. Your hearing healthcare provider will walk you through the options that can best meet your hearing and lifestyle needs! 

We highly encourage you to start prioritizing your hearing health today by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. This involves a painless process that evaluates your hearing capacity in both ears. Hearing tests establish your hearing needs and ways to ensure those needs are being met in your daily life!

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