Here’s Why So Many People Have An Untreated Hearing Loss

Julie sitting at her desk

Better hearing does more than reconnect you with family, friends, and the world around you.

Treating your hearing loss also reduces the risk of developing cognitive issues such as poor recall and dementia. Getting help for hearing loss improves your balance and decreases your risk of falls and critical injuries while warding off depression and anxiety.

Despite the mental and physical health dangers associated with hearing loss, most people wait 7 to 10 years from the time the first signs appear and their first hearing assessment.

The tendency to put off treatment for hearing loss is of great concern to me because not only have they lost those years to a reduced quality of life, but they have also caused additional damage that might have been prevented. 

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To increase the awareness of individuals and the Lacey, WA community at large, I believe it is important to examine three of the most common reasons why so many people have untreated hearing loss.

Reason 1: Hearing Loss Is Easily Missed

You’ve heard people compare things that take a long time to develop as like “watching grass grow” or “watching paint dry.” The onset of hearing loss is similar. Most people don’t know they have a problem with their hearing until communicating with others becomes a significant struggle.

Although there are many early warning signs, such as asking others to speak up or clarify what they said, turning up the TV volume, and struggling to understand conversations in a busy restaurant, they fail to recognize the problem.

Reason 2: “I Don’t Want To Feel Old.”

Lee Atwater, the political strategist for George H. W. Bush, frequently used the phrase “perception is reality.” Fear of how they will be perceived if they are wearing hearing aids is another reason why people often decide to delay treatment for a hearing loss.

Hearing aids are plagued by the stigma that they are only for older people. Essentially, if you are wearing a hearing aid, then you must be old.

The reality is much different than the perception. Although aging is among the causes of hearing loss, individuals of all ages can experience hearing loss due to:

  • Occupational exposure to loud noise (heavy machinery) or an extreme noise event (explosion)
  • Recreational exposure to loud noise (firearms, night clubs, loud music in headphones)
  • Genetic makeup making you more susceptible to hearing damage
  • Birth defects
  • Diseases or illnesses resulting in a high fever that can damage the cochlea (meningitis)
  • Ototoxic medications and narcotics use, which can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss

In addition, hearing aid technology has changed a great deal in the last couple of decades and continues to advance, allowing for smaller, lighter, and more discrete devices, which provide incredible hearing clarity, the ability to filter out background noise, and the capacity to connect with your smartphone and other digital devices.

Reason 3: “I Can’t Afford The Treatment.”

There is some validity to this concern. Hearing aids require significant investment, and it’s not always easy to come up with the funds to cover the cost.

However, more and more insurance providers are beginning to recognize that hearing loss is a critical health issue, and there are more organizations dedicated to helping get hearing aids to individuals with financial needs.

It is critical to understand that investing in a hearing aid costs much less than the mental and physical health risks, the strained relationships, and reduced quality of life associated with leaving your condition untreated.

Begin Your Journey to Better Hearing with South Sound Audiology

No matter the reason, avoiding treatment for your hearing loss puts you at risk for developing serious mental and physical health issues, strained relationships, and reduced quality of life.

Your first step on the road to better hearing is a hearing assessment at South Sound Audiology.

If you or a loved one struggles with a hearing loss, my team and I are eager to partner with you on your journey to better hearing. Contact us today!


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Julie VanAusdal

Since 2006, Ms. VanAusdal has operated South Sound Audiology, applying 20 years of education, experience, and expertise to provide hearing solutions to pediatric and adult patients in the greater Olympia community. She is passionate about restoring the relationships and opportunities her patients lost because of hearing challenges. Her greatest motivation is seeing her patients enjoy a more active, rewarding, and independent lifestyle due to better hearing. Her commitment to our community shines through in her patient-centered approach to her audiology practice.

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