Common and Unique
If you are like most Americans you probably assume that hearing loss is far more rare than it actually is. Hearing loss is an invisible disability. You cannot tell that someone is deaf or hard of hearing from looking at them. And portrayals of the deaf and hard of hearing in popular culture are not only uncommon, they are often flawed. The common old stereotypes in the movies and TV have very little to do with the wide spectrum of people who actually suffer from hearing loss. And when you do not see people that conform to these expectations very frequently, of course you assume that they are rare. And it is true, congenital hearing loss is present in less than three out of every 1,000 births in the U.S.
But, in fact, hearing loss affects more people annually than diabetes or cancer. Almost 14% of all Americans aged 18 or older suffer from it, including 1/3 of everyone aged 65-74 and over half of all people aged 75 and above. Whether you know it or not, you know people whose lives are significantly impacted by hearing loss.
Perhaps the most shocking of these statistics is how common it is for people with hearing loss to not treat it. You read that correctly. Over 80% of everyone with hearing loss, for one reason or another, does not seek appropriate treatment to mitigate its effects. Put another way, less than one out of every five people with hearing loss treats it with the gravity that it deserves. And among people that do wear hearing aids, they have waited an average of seven years to do so. Meaning, the delay between when they first would have benefitted from hearing aids and when they actually started doing so was seven years.
There are many reasons for these discouraging commonalities. Hearing loss comes on so gradually, often over a number of years, that more often than not someone does not even consciously register that it is happening to them. And in the event that they do comprehend it is happening, there are plenty of reasons why they instinctively choose to downplay its significance. But as common as these experiences may be, each individual’s specific case of hearing loss is unique to them. And this means of course that the treatment also needs to be unique to them.
What Appropriate Treatment Really Means
Hearing loss is very rarely the result of proximity to a single calamitous event. More often it is the result of habitual exposure to dangerous sound levels that may seem harmless in the immediate, but take on compounded risks with continued exposure. For example, if you need to raise your voice to talk to someone standing three feet away from you, that means you are probably in an environment that is at least 85 dB. You may not feel too uncomfortable. Or at least it is manageable. And it may even become normalized for you to do this. But the longer you remain in that environment the greater the risk of hearing damage becomes. And the more frequently you return to this space, the greater the risk becomes, ironically, increasing in inverse proportion to how normalized it is becoming to be in this space.
Considering how delicate and precise the operations of our ears are, it is no wonder that the specific patterns of hearing damage happen differently for everyone. Hearing loss is not just about an overall diminishing of volume. Different frequencies suffer different effects. This is called bilateral hearing loss, acknowledging that each ear has its own unique pattern of damage.
Consider one man is a hot dog vendor in a stadium. He’s been stationed in the same station on the western edge of the stadium for years and his left ear takes on the direct roar of the crowd while at every moment his right ear gets the same roars with the slightest reflection of concrete. The frequencies damaged in each ear and the severity of the damage will of course be different in each ear.
Another man is a construction worker working a jackhammer. And a third man works at a textile factory. And let’s say that guy also is left-handed, meaning he positions himself at his machinery differently compared to his coworkers.
Is there possibly a universe in which it would ever make sense to treat these conditions all the same? Every person’s hearing loss pattern is unique and every ear’s hearing loss pattern is unique. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today to guarantee that your treatment is exactly what you yourself, you specifically, need.