Hearing loss and its impact on income and quality of life

Hearing loss and its effects create a troubling circle that can be difficult to escape from. The results of a poll of 1,500 full-time U.S. workers by EPIC Hearing Healthcare revealed that about 30 percent of respondents thought they had a hearing loss (based on having to ask people to repeat what they said, misunderstanding what is being said, or pretending to hear when they cannot) but hadn’t sought diagnosis or treatment yet. Worse, 95 percent of those people said that hearing loss affects their work – yet only one in five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one. Research has shown that it takes an average of seven years from the onset of hearing loss to when someone decides to look for a solution.

Hearing loss, also known as the invisible disease, contributes to a range of health maladies – fatigue, stress, depression, social rejection, loneliness, risks to personal safety, impaired memory and ability to learn, and reduced ability to work in teams. However, even with this reduction in quality of life, one of its biggest impacts is on your wallet.

HC column tableCommon indicators of hearing loss are more obvious: the numerous requests for repetition (“Huh?” or “What?”), the appearance of not paying attention, increased television volume, increased isolation, memory loss, appearing to ignore family members, pretending to hear and nod your head when you really have no idea what the conversation is about, and, but not limited to, giving a response to a completely different question.

It is often left out of the conversation, but hearing loss does affect income. In a survey of more than 40,000 households utilizing the National Family Opinion panel, hearing loss was shown to negatively impact household income on-average up to $12,000 per year, depending on the degree of hearing loss (approximately $1,000 in annual household income for every 10 percent increase in hearing loss – see graph).

With close to 25 million Americans with untreated hearing loss in the workforce, it adds up to more than $100 billion in lost wages annually (for those of you who love taxes, at a 15 percent tax bracket, that’s $15 billion in unrealized taxes)!

In the workplace, hearing loss can be dangerous. Examples include not hearing the foreman yelling to “watch out” or misunderstanding a phone call and placing the incorrect order and quantity. How about making that first impression and mispronouncing someone’s name after not hearing it properly – I can give a first-hand example of meeting new patients and introducing myself as Dr. Gosalia, and they repeat it as Dr. Gofalia.

The use of hearing instruments are shown to improve negative impacts by up to 50 percent. The stigma associated with using hearing instruments is disappearing as those who treat their hearing loss sooner than later are showing success in their personal and professional lives. Comments such as “I am now able to hear my clients over the phone,” “I can finally hear my granddaughter” or “I’m so embarrassed, this whole time I’ve been calling you Dr. Gofalia…” are some of the reasons why good hearing is so important.

A simple hearing evaluation by an Audiologist can identify if a hearing loss is present. Don’t lose out on an improved quality of life and unrealized income. If you or a loved one can identify with any part of this article, it is time to have your hearing checked!

Amit Gosalia, Au.D, is the co-owner of Audiology Clinic Inc. For contact info, visit www.audiologyclinic.com.

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