The Use (or underuse) of Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is more common than many people think. An estimated 500 million experience hearing loss worldwide.
How many people use hearing aids? In the US (with a population of over 316 million in 2013), where nearly 10 percent of the population over the age of 3 years have hearing loss, only about 20 percent of those who could benefit from hearing aids actually use the devices.
In comparison, as of 2011 more than 10 million people in the UK, or 1 in 6, have some form of hearing loss. More than 6 million of this group would benefit from hearing aids, but only about 2 million actually have hearing aids, and only 1.4 million use them regularly.
Why don’t people wear hearing aids? Reasons typically cited include: they are uncomfortable; they whistle; they are not useful in a large crowd; wearing them results in over-stimulation or hearing overload; getting used to them takes effort; and the lack of support available to recipients after being given them.
In the US, increasing the rate of hearing aid usage was a Health & Human Services (HHS) Healthy People 2010 goal and continues as a Healthy People 2020 goal. Research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has driven the development of hearing aids from their inception in the 1950s and remains, today, an ongoing priority for NIDCD.


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