Hearing loss ranks as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide. By 2050, the World Health Organization projects 1 in 4 people globally will be living with hearing loss.
An overwhelming 80% of U.S. adults say that maintaining their hearing health is extremely or very important to their quality of life, according to a recent poll commissioned by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and conducted by YouGov. Yet, only 20% have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared with 61% who have had their vision tested. And most adults also report they wouldn’t treat hearing loss unless it was “severe.”
More than a Nuisance
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person’s overall health, physical safety, and quality of life. If you have untreated hearing loss, you might have a higher risk of developing certain health conditions—including social isolation, depression, anxiety, falls and other injuries, and cognitive decline and dementia.
Act Now on Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss Checklist
Taking Action on Hearing Loss
Many people wait years or even decades to seek help for their hearing loss, as illustrated in the new televised public service announcement (PSA), Act Now on Hearing. By taking action, a person can improve their overall health, mental health, personal relationships, and quality of life.
As a first step, anyone who has concerns about their hearing (or that of a loved one) should seek a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist. Private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare generally cover evaluations. Take this step even if you think you can’t afford hearing aids or other hearing services. Audiologists can advise on ways to make hearing aids more affordable, and various organizations offer financial assistance.
Before scheduling an appointment, check with your insurance plan to find out about your coverage for hearing services. Some plans require a doctor’s referral to see an audiologist. A searchable database of certified audiologists can be found at www.asha.org/profind. The public can also call 800-638-8255.
More Than Hearing Aids
Audiologists can help with other forms of treatment beyond hearing aids to improve a person’s listening and communication skills; this is called audiologic rehabilitation. This includes use of other devices that may help a person hear better at home or in public (e.g., devices that make the telephone or TV sound louder), called hearing assistive technology); tips for using visual clues to enhance speech understanding; and advice for rearranging a person’s home or office to make it easier to hold a conversation and reduce background noise.
Taking Action on Hearing Loss: 5 Steps
Helping a Family Member With Hearing Loss
The March 2021 ASHA-YouGov poll of nearly 2,500 U.S. adults ages 18 and older showed the following:
About the Act Now on Hearing PSA Campaign
Act Now on Hearing is a public service announcement campaign of the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA), the consumer affiliate of ASHA.
For more information about these organizations, and to learn more about hearing loss, visit the ASHA website at www.asha.org/public.
About the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA)
NAHSA is the national consumer affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dedicated to educating the public about communication disorders, it regularly conducts public outreach through a variety of means, including PSA campaigns, polling, events, exhibits, and collaborations with counterpart organizations. www.asha.org/nahsa
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. https://www.asha.org/