Hearing loss is one of the most overlooked public health issues in our nation; nearly 15% of American adults (37.5 million) report some difficulty hearing. Over 432 million adults need help to hear. Unfortunately, among adults over 65, NIDCD reports approximately 1/3 have noticeable hearing loss, yet only 30% have ever tried hearing aids. Even though millions of american adults could benefit from using hearing aids, only a fraction can afford them, and of those, many are not willing to try them.

Onset of Hearing Loss: Health Savvy and Budget Friendly

Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound, and can lead to difficulty in hearing conversational speech. Acquired causes may lead to hearing loss at any age, however, age related degeneration of sensory cells is a major contributing factor, with the greatest precedence found in the 60 to 69 age group. Visiting an audiologist to test for hearing loss can be a prudent idea for hearing health.

People with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive personal sound amplification devices, and other forms of educational and social support. Unfortunately, global production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global need. Alternative over-the-counter Personal Sound Amplifiers are a budget friendly option for immediate need prior to committing to expensive and customized hearing aids.

Helping Individuals with Hearing Loss

If you know someone with hearing loss, you can help them understand you better by facing them, and speaking with a loud, clear voice. When you can, minimize background noise for a quieter environment. Hearing loss diminishes an individual’s ability to communicate with others, because they regularly miss parts of conversations. Loss of easy communication can have a significant impact on everyday life, causing feelings of isolation and frustration, particularly among older individuals. A growing body of evidence suggests that hearing loss may contribute to cognitive and physical decline.

Significant hearing loss is almost three times as common as age-related vision loss, yet there are few equivalents to reading glasses for those with hearing loss. The recently introduced Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act aims to help improve the affordability and accessibility of hearing health care. This new bill focuses on devices such as low-cost personal sound amplification products (PSAPs). These units are far less expensive than custom hearing aids and are generally a simple solution for mild to moderate hearing loss.

Advocacy and Greater Availability  

Organizations like the Hearing Loss Association of America are advocating for greater accessibility and affordability in hearing devices. Research by University hospitals including John Hopkins and Harvard demonstrates the benefits of low-cost amplifiers for qualitative care in hospitals, and for individuals. They offer PSAPs to patients who present mild to moderate loss, and see noticeable improvement.

Age related hearing loss can be treated with the use of hearing aids and other communication devices. Personal Sound Amplifiers can enhance volume and frequency input via a small portable microphone. There are options that could help treat mild to moderate hearing loss, and many organizations are advocating for increased options in favor of hearing health.