Staefa, Switzerland, February 22, 2017

Around half of the Americans have at least occasionally difficulty hearing but only 13 percent of those wear hearing aids. 

45 percent of American respondents feel that they have at least occasionally difficulty hearing and 72 percent of those report that family members or friends have also commented about their poor hearing. However only 13 percent of those who think they suffer from hearing loss wear hearing aids. One reason, suggested by 89 percent of American respondents, is that they don’t want to publicly acknowledge their hearing loss. This and further facts were revealed in an international study, “How the world hears” by the Hear the World Foundation.

The ear is our most powerful sensory organ: Used 24 hours a day, the ear can recognize up to 400,000 sounds and process some 50 sensations every second – twice as many as our eyes do. Unfortunately, the ear’s importance is often neglected in our visually orientated word. By publishing the study “How the world hears”, the Hear the World Foundation aims to increase public awareness and emphasize the importance of good hearing while also sharing tips on how people can protect their hearing.

The most significant results for the US at a glance

  • Self-assessed awareness of hearing loss: Around half (45 percent) of those surveyed think that they have difficulty hearing at least occasionally: 11 percent think they really have difficulty hearing and 34 percent do think they have difficulty at least ocassionally. Of those, 58 percent think they have mild hearing loss, 34 percent think they have moderate hearing loss, and 3 percent think they have severe hearing loss.
     
  • Awareness raised by family and friends: For those who recognize they have trouble hearing, 72 percent have heard remarks from family members and friends about their poor hearing. This was true for only 11 percent of respondents who were sure their hearing was good.
     
  • Hearing test made: 36 percent of respondents have had their hearing tested within the last five years.
     
  • Few wear hearing aids: Only 13 percent of the Americans surveyed, who think they suffer from hearing loss, actually wear hearing aids.
     
  • A possible reason: 89 percent of respondents believe, at least somewhat, that people decide against hearing aids because they don’t want to publicly acknowledge their hearing loss. 36 percent are convinced this is a reason.

Hearing loss often untreated – motivation from family can help

These study results show that even when family and friends of someone with hearing loss notice and comment about their poor hearing, very few people decide to use hearing aids. „The process from initial awareness to treatment of a hearing loss requires time. Family members and friends can play an important role in it, by accompanying the person affected by hearing loss through the process. Our experience shows that people with hearing loss, who have the support of their their loved ones,  more often decide to wear hearing aids and are happier with this decision“, said Dr. Prof. Jerry L. Northern, Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Advisory Board member of the Hear the World Foundation.

In addition to the person affected, family members and friends are benefiting from the decision to wear hearing aids, which is reflected in the Hear the World Foundation's study "Hearing is living". 78 percent of respondents wearing hearing aids said that the activities in the circle of friends have changed positively, and 73 percent say the relationship with their family members has improved since they are wearing hearing aids.

Tips to protect hearing

  • Do not turn music up too loud: noise levels below 85 dB are considered safe for our hearing. If you listen to music through audio devices, do not turn it up any louder than 60 percent of the maximum volume.
  • Listen to music through headphones that fit well and block out background noise, as this will enable you to enjoy music at a low volume even in noisy surroundings.
  • Wear earplugs at concerts and clubs and in other noisy environments. They can reduce the noise level by 5 to 45 dB.
  • Use smartphone apps to measure the level of background noise to which you are exposing your ears.
  • To give your ears a rest, make a conscious effort to take acoustic breaks and turn off all noise sources.
  • Have your hearing regularly checked by a hearing care professional.

About the study

From September to November 2015, the market research organization Research Now asked 1,000 women and men aged between 16 and 55 in Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Brazil, and China about the issues of hearing and hearing loss for the “How the World Hears” study.

Further knowledge about hearing and hearing loss you find here