6 Misconceptions About Hearing Loss

Knowing the truth about hearing loss can help you see past the stigma of wearing hearing aids and become a hearing health advocate for you and your loved ones. Don’t assume you have all the information needed to make decisions about your hearing—do the research, talk to hearing care professionals, and learn to separate the myths from reality.

Here are six of the more persistent misconceptions about hearing loss:

1. If I only have hearing loss in one ear, it isn’t a big deal.

If you’ve ever owned a device that amplifies audio in stereo like a surround sound system or any pair of headphones, then you know how frustrating it can be when one side burns out from overuse. Likewise, optimal hearing for humans is binaural, meaning both ears work together to absorb sound waves. When one ear isn’t working at maximum efficiency, you lose volume and clarity you may not even realize is missing. In addition, there might be additional problems with the other ear that you are unaware of, as most types of hearing loss affect both ears. Only a test conducted by a qualified medical professional can accurately determine function in one or both ears.

2. Hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process.

You may be surprised that only about 35 percent of those affected by hearing loss are over 64. While it may be somewhat common among the elderly, that doesn’t make it normal or inevitable. Steps can be taken to protect your hearing to avoid losing it even as you reach the age of retirement. Rather than simply accept hearing loss as one of the downsides of aging, you can improve your hearing with the use of hearing aids.

3. Hearing loss can’t kill me, so it shouldn’t be among my top medical concerns.

Untreated hearing loss affects you in every way—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Straining to listen to others has been linked to deteriorating mental function that can lead to dementia. In addition, hearing loss cuts you off from society, leaving you feeling isolated and alone, which contributes to depression. Unlike many other debilitating conditions that leave you without options, hearing loss is often possible to overcome through treatment with hearing aids.

4. I clearly don’t have hearing loss or someone would have noticed and told me already.

Don’t be so sure. Most people in your life would probably be surprised to learn you have hearing loss. Instead, your spouse may argue you are “selectively listening” to them, your boss may assume you aren’t “paying attention” to directions, and your friends may think you’re “zoning out” at parties. Few friends or even family members recognize the signs of hearing loss for what they are, and even if they do, they may be uncomfortable broaching the subject.

5. I’d rather deal with hearing loss than wear hearing aids.

There is nothing shameful about addressing hearing loss with hearing aids, any more than correcting vision loss with glasses. Modern hearing aids are no longer the highly-visible, clunky devices that once made everything sound too loud, artificial, and directionless. They are sophisticated, high-tech audio devices that can significantly improve your quality and enjoyment of life. They can also keep you from losing any more hearing than you already have.

6. Hearing aids are too expensive.

As of this writing, prescription hearing aids are the only doctor-recommended way to treat hearing loss. These devices average around $1,000 per ear and can exceed $3,000. This high price, coupled with the fact that not all insurance plans cover hearing aids, is enough to scare many people away from moving forward with treatment. However, several manufacturers now offer basic- and essential-level hearing aids sold by hearing care professionals at more affordable prices without sacrificing quality or efficacy.

If the cost of hearing aids is an issue for you, the Hearing Loss Association of America has provided information regarding multiple resources and organizations dedicated to cutting costs for the hard of hearing. Other services provide flexible loans that can cover the initial cost of hearing aids, so be sure to speak with your hearing care professional about financing and other options.