It is a general consensus that approximately 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. That is one in every ten people! Chances are, everyone knows at least one person with some degree of hearing loss.
Many hearing-impaired people live in denial, believing that their hearing is no less than normal. The truth is, hearing loss is generally gradual, occurring over time. A decrease in hearing can be so gradual that one may not realize that their hearing has deteriorated until they begin responding frequently with “Huh?” and/or “What?” Often, those suffering with hearing loss attribute this to others “mumbling.”
The hearing-impaired person will usually find some way to compensate for the loss they have sustained, such as lip-reading. When one suffers from hearing loss the primary problem is not that sounds are perceived as softer, but that speech is not clear. Often times, a patient will report that they can hear, but not understand.
Some friends and family members of the hearing-impaired live in denial as well, making such statements as “Their hearing is just selective” or “They’re not paying attention.” What they fail to understand is that the hearing-impaired person is missing much of the conversation, relying largely on the context of the conversation. Often the one with hearing loss will make “guesses” as to what was said. Those with untreated hearing loss may provide inappropriate responses or interpret inappropriate translations of what was said.
One must understand that a decrease in hearing is often a decrease in quality of life. Those suffering from hearing loss may become so embarrassed that, instead of asking others to repeat themselves, they just nod their head and act as if they understood what was communicated. Often those suffering from hearing loss withdraw and no longer participate in activities they once enjoyed and even avoid social settings. They also often miss the punch line to jokes as everyone else is laughing.
Today, 90% of hearing problems (the kind attributed to the aging process and exposure to noise) can be helped and are very responsive to hearing aids. Of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss, only about 6 million use hearing aids. There has been a stigma associated with hearing loss and the use of hearing aids; however, there is no substitute for better hearing. Once hearing is “restored,” the patient is generally amazed at how much they’ve been missing and are very successful as a hearing aid user.