In 2020, Akoio conducted a study to examine the general public’s attitude towards hearing loss, hearing health concerns, and hearing devices and products. The participants were grouped into several categories:
- Hearing aid users
- People reporting hearing loss (not using hearing aids)
- Helpers of someone that has hearing loss
- Those who don’t admit to having hearing loss
After analyzing the data, we created an infographic that illustrates the prevalence of hearing concerns and the reasoning for not seeking help. Bottom line, with the goal of improving overall public health and wellbeing, it is important to reduce the stigma surrounding hearing loss and using hearing devices.
Why the stigma?
“My hearing loss isn’t bad enough…yet!” The study showed 54.5% of respondents were delaying investigating hearing aids because they weren’t mentally ready and didn’t feel their hearing loss was at a stage that warranted assistance. Oftentimes people feel a stigma around hearing loss. Simply put, it makes them feel old! We tend to put great emphasis on youthful appearances and peak performance. In an article published by Healthy Hearing, the stigmas surrounding hearing loss are examined. The three main factors contributing to delays in diagnosis and treatment are self-perception, ageism and vanity. An unintended result of delaying diagnosis can be its impact on both mental and physical health. Specifically, leaving hearing loss untreated may cause auditory deprivation (damage to your brain’s ability to process sounds), and is linked to dementia and an increased fall risk.
One in 5 experience a loss in hearing
Fact: One in five people will experience some hearing loss in their lifetime.
Aging, whether we like it or not…happens! Our body gets older as each day goes by, and aging affects our sense of smell, taste, and yes, hearing. At least with hearing, we can do something about it. Assistive listening devices help amplify sounds allowing individuals to continue living their best life and participating fully in conversations when hearing loss occurs.
A cause for concern
Fortunately, over half of people are receptive to making hearing wellness a priority. Perhaps it’s because someone close to them experiences hearing loss or they find themselves adjusting the volume on their electronics to hear better. Or, maybe they’ve noticed an increasing reliance on reading lips and facial expressions.
People don’t like going to the doctor
Concern is there; action is not. The survey revealed that 77% of people who experience hearing loss aren’t diagnosed. An upsetting statistic indeed, but not surprising. Statista.com data informs us that only 30% of people visit their doctor annually.
Test your hearing with an app
If you identify with the many Americans that identify as having some degree of hearing loss, but don’t want to visit a doctor for a variety of reasons, there are free apps that can establish a baseline for your hearing ability. Our staff tried the MiMi Test, which is available for both Android and Apple devices. This app is free, easy to use, and gives instant results. All you’ll need is a set of headphones and a quiet space. It will “test” each of your ears by playing sounds in different frequencies. The results are immediate and indicate how well you can hear high and low frequency sounds. The app also compares your hearing ability to others your same age. If the test shows hearing loss, we recommend visiting a nearby audiologist. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage and treat hearing or balance problems in infants, adolescents, and adults.
Talk about hearing loss
Let’s talk about it! Akoio developed a series of conversation guides designed to get the conversation going. In 2021, we revised the guides to include information about COVID-19. Whether it’s your parent, teen, friend, or spouse, our guides provide helpful advice to steer challenging conversations in a positive direction. Remember, better communication is your guide to hearing wellness.
Don’t wait…know the facts
It’s reassuring to know that you are not alone! Many people experience hearing loss themselves, or have a loved one that is affected. Acknowledging it is the first step. Secondly, it’s important to seek diagnosis and treatment. If the cost for hearing healthcare is a concern, there are many non-profit hearing and speech clinics that can help. A simple internet search for “hearing and speech clinics near me” will help you find clinics to contact. Also, the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center of Gallaudet University has a published list of resources and directories that can help you address your hearing loss. At Akoio, we share a passion for hearing health and wellness. Foremost, we want to empower you with the knowledge and resources to help you conquer life!