Denmark, 22nd May 2019 – A new survey[i] conducted in ten countries, specifically designed to study the habits of people with hearing loss, reveals how people around the world feel about their hearing condition and how addressing hearing loss with treatment can significantly improve quality of life.
Commissioned by The International Campaign for Better Hearing the new study concludes that 74% of respondents from around the world with hearing loss have at some point been embarrassed, while 69% have felt anxious, 64% have experienced feeling socially isolated, 59% felt tired/drained, 62% suffered from anger or frustration, and 49% have even felt unsafe as a result of their hearing loss.
The US ranked highest, with 81% of their respondents experiencing social isolation because of their hearing loss, while people in Spain were the most likely to have experienced feeling unsafe because of their condition (79%).
After recognising a problem with their hearing, 3/10 people globally delayed getting assessed and treatment as they believed losing their hearing was just a fact of aging and therefore couldn’t be helped, and 24% delayed seeing a professional as they were too embarrassed to go.
The US and UK respondents were quickest to seek medical help with 17% of US respondents and 16% of UK respondents pursuing advice as quickly as within a month of noticing a problem with their hearing. However, alarmingly it took 22% of Irish, 18% of Australian and 18% of New Zealand respondents over 5 years to seek help. Overall, less than half of respondents across the globe sought advice for their hearing issues within 6 months, and more than a third waited over a year.
After being diagnosed with hearing loss, 91% of respondents had treatment globally, which included hearing aids, cochlear implants, surgery and wax removal. Respondents from Ireland were most reluctant to accept treatment – 35% compared to the global average of 9%.
The most common treatment for hearing loss across the globe was wearing a hearing aid, topping the poll in all but one market region. In fact, more than 8/10 of respondents in half of the countries polled reported that they wear aids, and significantly, 84% reported that their life has consequently improved by treatment.
The survey revealed that the most common prompts for recognising hearing problems are difficulty with conversations (62%), having to turn up the radio / TV (60%), and having friends and family pointing out that they are missing out on sounds (51%).
“In general, it seems that noticing hearing issues does not always spur us to seek medical advice, even though a vast majority have at some point felt anxious, unsafe or alone. In fact, we are actually willing to wait a considerable amount of time and live with our symptoms,” says Ann-Kristin Foss, Brand and Communications Manager, International Campaign for Better Hearing. “Considering how much of a difference hearing loss treatment can make to our lives we want to encourage more people to get their hearing checked as soon as they notice any difference to their hearing ability.”
“If you noticed a problem with your eye sight, you would almost certainly get checked out as soon as possible, and would visit an optician for a diagnosis. Over half of the respondents that took our survey were more likely to turn to health services than to a hearing specialist for diagnosis of their hearing issues. Thanks to the International Campaign for Better Hearing, everyone can now receive a free hearing test at a number of professional hearing clinics across the world,” concludes Ann-Kristin Foss.
The International Campaign for Better Hearing survey also looked to find out whether people with hearing loss were aware of the links between unaddressed hearing loss and health issues, and the results reveal that the majority of global respondents demonstrate an alarming lack of knowledge of how hearing loss can affect overall health. Whilst many are familiar with the links between hearing loss and social withdrawal and depression, more than three quarters are unaware that hearing loss can cause problems with heart health, strokes and diabetes. Furthermore, 80% aren’t aware that untreated hearing loss may increase your risk of developing dementia. This question was also posed to family members of people with hearing loss, which produced slightly more positive results. Clearly, relatives across the globe have done their homework.
The International Campaign for Better Hearing advocates the importance of hearing loss identification, offering free hearing tests for everyone – particularly encouraging people over the age of 60 to have their hearing checked at a clinic for free, as they are at a higher risk of hearing loss. The initiative, which is supported by one of the world’s leading hearing care retailers, Audika Group, is making every effort to inform and educate about hearing health and the dangers of untreated hearing loss as well as making hearing aids accessible to those who otherwise could not afford them via a give-back programme.
[i] The survey was conducted in 10 representative countries, including; Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain. 1024 adults in total (approx. 100 per market), primarily with mild to moderate hearing loss, were polled, as well as family members of those with hearing issues. All statistics quoted are based on the global average created by the results from the respondents of all 10 counties polled.