20 January 2009

Hearing impaired people wait for years before seeking treatment

In 2008, hear-it carried out a number of online surveys about daily life with hearing loss. The results are being published in a series of articles on www.hear-it.org. Here is the first article.

Among people who suspect that their hearing is impaired, three in four wait for years before seeking treatment. The ratio is unchanged even among those whose suspicion is confirmed. Those are the findings of a new online survey conducted by hear-it.org.

Many hearing impaired people live with their untreated hearing loss for years, according to a new survey conducted by the non-commercial hear-it organisation. Three in four people, who suspect that their hearing is impaired, said they believe that they have suffered from their hearing loss for more than a year. 37.5 percent said that they have lived with their untreated hearing loss for more than five years.

Prejudices cause hesitation

Three in four said they had undergone a hearing check-up by a hearing health care professional. Still, the majority did not take the final step towards treatment with hearing aids.

- We can only speculate about why so many hesitate and fail to seek treatment. My best guess is that using hearing aids is still associated with a variety of prejudices, stated Kim Ruberg, Secretary General of Hear-it.
As a result of the failure to seek treatment, many suffer needlessly from the wide range of adverse effects of hearing loss, Ruberg pointed out.

Treatment improves quality of life

- All relevant studies have found that treatment of hearing loss, typically with hearing aids, significantly improves the quality of life of hearing impaired people, stated Ruberg. Hearing aids bring improvements to personal relationships, job performance, social relations and most other areas of life where hearing is important.

Difficulty hearing in groups or places with background noise, a tendency to turn up the television volume and a need to often ask for words to be repeated are common indications of hearing impairment. The hearing impaired person often finds social situations tiresome and may be exhausted after a normal workday.

In Europe, one person in six suffers from hearing loss, according to an earlier hear-it report. In the United States, hearing loss is the third most widespread chronic affliction according to Better Hearing Institute.

About the survey

About 150 online hear-it users took part in the study, which was one in a series of surveys about living with hearing loss.

Published on hear-it on January 20, 2009.

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