5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss
It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before seeking a qualified professional diagnosis, in spite of the reality that the warning signs of hearing loss are clear to others. But are those with hearing loss simply too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a handful of different reasons.
Perhaps you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the difficulties or refuses to seek professional help, and despite the fact that this is no doubt frustrating, it is very possible that the indications of hearing loss are much more obvious to you than they are to them.
Here are the reasons why:
1. Hearing loss is gradual
In the majority of scenarios, hearing loss comes about so slowly and gradually that the afflicted person simply doesn’t perceive the change. While you would detect an quick change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (defined as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t perceive the modest change of a 1-2 decibel loss.
So a gradual loss of 1-2 decibels over the course of 10-20 years, while generating a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be perceptible at any given moment in time for those impacted. That’s why friends and family are nearly always the first to recognize hearing loss.
2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)
The majority of hearing loss scenarios are categorized as high-frequency hearing loss, which means that the impacted individual can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. Even though speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is difficult for those with hearing loss to comprehend, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s not uncommon for those with hearing loss to say, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”
3. Hearing loss is not attended to by the family doctor
Individuals suffering with hearing loss can get a mistaken sense of well-being following their yearly physical. It’s common to hear people state “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”
This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians regularly test for hearing loss during the course of the yearly checkup. Not to mention that the primary symptom for most cases of hearing loss — difficulty comprehending speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a quiet office setting.
4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others
How do you remedy hearing loss when there’s no cure? The answer is straight forward: amplify sounds. The problem is, while hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to accomplish it — which people with hearing loss promptly identify.
Those with hearing loss commonly crank up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. TVs and radios are played extremely loud and people are made to either shout or repeat themselves. The person with hearing loss can manage just fine with this method, but only by passing on the burden to friends, family members, and co-workers.
5. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible
Hearing loss is predominately subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visible evaluation and it generally is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If those with hearing loss do not recognize a problem, chiefly because of the reasons above, then they most likely won’t take action.
The only way to appropriately diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will measure the specific decibel level hearing loss at various sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively determine whether hearing loss is present, but the tricky part is needless to say getting to that point.
How to approach those with hearing loss
Hopefully, this article has generated some empathy. It is always frustrating when someone with hearing loss refuses to accept the problem, but keep in mind, they may legitimately not recognize the extent of the problem. Rather than commanding that they get their hearing tested, a more productive method may be to educate them on the features of hearing loss that make the condition virtually invisible.