7 Common Misconceptions About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

Feb 28, 2024

Article by Hearing Partners, contributed by Soh Lee Lee, Senior Clinical Audiologist at Hearing Partners

Did you know that there are approximately 430 million individuals worldwide who are in need of rehabilitation due to disabling hearing loss1? In Singapore alone, the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) estimates that around 500,000 people have been diagnosed with hearing loss2.

As the prevalence of hearing loss continues to rise both globally and in Singapore, it becomes increasingly crucial to raise awareness about this condition and dispel any misconceptions surrounding it. This article aims to address 7 common misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids, providing you with valuable information that you can share with your loved ones. Keep reading to find out more!

Common Misconceptions About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is often considered a sensitive topic that many individuals avoid discussing, resulting in a lack of awareness and knowledge about this condition. Here, we address 3 common misconceptions surrounding hearing loss.

1. Hearing loss only happens to older people

It’s a common misconception that hearing loss is solely caused by age. However, this isn’t always the case as various factors can contribute to hearing loss across different stages of life, including viral and ear infections, ototoxic medications, traumatic brain or ear injury, prolonged exposure to (loud) noise and others. 

Therefore, while age is often associated with this condition, it’s crucial to recognise that hearing loss can occur in individuals of all age groups.

2. Hearing loss is only caused by very loud noises

Noise exposure can lead to sudden or gradual hearing loss.

Exposure to sudden loud noise at close range, such as a gunshot or explosion, can lead to instant hearing loss, also known as acoustic trauma. On the other hand, continuous exposure to moderately loud sounds, like listening to music at a high volume through the earpiece or attending concerts regularly, can also lead to permanent hearing damage over time.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 1.1 billion young adults worldwide are at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) due to their constant exposure to loud recreational noises1. In Singapore, specifically, 1 in 6 youths are at risk of developing NIHL due to their listening habits3.

To safeguard your hearing, a simple safe-volume guideline is 80 – 85dBSPL for a maximum of 8 hours.

Infographic of the noise levels of common sounds

3. Hearing loss cannot be prevented

Chart of the significant modifiable risks of dementia
Various factors can contribute to hearing loss, including genetics, medications and exposure to loud noises. Additionally, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and diabetes can also increase the risk of hearing loss4.

While some causes like genetics and ageing are unavoidable, lifestyle causes such as ear candling, smoking and alcohol consumption can be managed to prevent hearing loss. In particular, one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss is noise exposure.

By adopting safe listening practices, such as keeping the volume of your earpiece below 50% of the maximum volume, reducing the duration and intensity of noise exposure and opting for quieter leisure activities, you can effectively prevent NIHL.

Take a free basic hearing test

If you suspect that you or your loved one may be suffering from hearing loss, book an appointment for a free basic hearing test at Hearing Partners.

Common Misconceptions About Hearing Aids

Our team at Hearing Partners conducted a study in 2022 to delve deeper into the topic of hearing loss and the use of hearing aids in Singapore. Through the study, we also uncovered prevalent misconceptions surrounding these devices. Here are our findings:

Infographic about the common misconceptions about hearing aids

4. Hearing aids are uncomfortable

The study revealed that 64% of respondents believed that wearing hearing aids is uncomfortable. However, most on- and in-ear hearing devices nowadays are very small and lightweight. 

Moreover, though there may be an initial adjustment period when first using hearing aids, a properly fitted device is, in fact, comfortable to wear. Therefore, ensuring a proper fit is crucial in minimising any potential discomfort.

5. Hearing aids are embarrassing

37% of respondents felt that hearing aids are embarrassing, as they believed that others would easily notice them. However, modern hearing aids are designed to be discreet and offer a variety of colour options to blend seamlessly with different hair and skin tones. This means that they can easily go unnoticed by others.

In particular, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are exceptionally discreet as they are worn inside the ear. Options like completely-in-canal (CIC) and invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are incredibly small and fit inside the ear canal, making them virtually invisible to others.

Moreover, just like glasses and Bluetooth listening devices, hearing aids can make a fashion statement.

Oftentimes, the negative perception surrounding hearing aids originates from the users themselves rather than those around them. By embracing hearing aids, those with hearing loss can actively engage in conversations, stay alert to potential hazards, avoid accidents and avoid answering people incorrectly.

6. Hearing aids are unnecessary

According to our survey, 47% of respondents believe that hearing aids are unnecessary. 

It’s common for people with hearing loss to mistakenly believe that they can hear adequately due to the accommodations made by those around them. These accommodations may include speaking louder and closer, using visual cues, and simplifying their words. However, this can cause those with hearing loss to become unaware of what they’re missing and the difficulties it poses for their loved ones. 

Moreover, it’s crucial to address hearing loss as continuous auditory deprivation can result in reduced memory and cognitive decline. It can also result in social isolation, depression and the development of dementia4.

Research has shown a direct correlation between the severity of hearing loss and the risk of dementia. Individuals with mild hearing loss are at twice the risk, while those with moderate hearing loss face three times the risk. For individuals with severe hearing loss, the risk of developing dementia can be up to five times higher.

As hearing loss is one of the modifiable risk factors for dementia4, early intervention with hearing aids is necessary.

7. Hearing aids amplify all surrounding noise

50% of our respondents believe that hearing aids amplify all surrounding noise. However, this was only true in the past with analogue hearing aids. These older models amplified all sounds indiscriminately, regardless of their frequency or volume.

Having said that, some level of environmental sounds are still essential for safety awareness and auditory stimulation. With the advancements in technology, modern hearing aids can now receive and amplify sounds with better precision. They can filter out some of the more interruptive and constant environmental sounds and highlight important details such as speech signals.

Additionally, technology has made it much easier for users to control the settings and volumes of their hearing aids, allowing them to customise their devices to suit different situations and environments. Thus, users can enjoy an enhanced overall hearing and listening experience.

Furthermore, hearing aids with advanced technology, such as Oticon hearing aids, offer features that distinguish speech from background noise effectively. This allows users to focus better on meaningful sounds while minimising the impact of disruptive noises such as wind, handling noise, and sudden sounds in the surroundings.

Thanks to the exceptional sound quality offered by modern hearing aids, users now have better access to speech, making it easier for them to follow conversations and engage in social interactions.

Speak to a hearing care professional today

If you’re interested in learning more about how hearing aids work and how they can benefit those with hearing loss, speak to our friendly hearing care professionals.

Improve Your Quality of Life With Hearing Aids

The impact of hearing loss can be significant, affecting not only the physical well-being but also the mental health of both individuals experiencing it and their loved ones. 

When left untreated, hearing loss can hinder speech comprehension and cognitive abilities, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness. This can be distressing for both parties involved, as the breakdown in communication can leave them feeling disconnected and frustrated.

Hearing aids can greatly enhance the quality of life of those with hearing loss. By wearing hearing aids, they can regain some clarity in hearing, allowing them to actively participate in conversations and reconnect with the world around them. This renewed sense of independence can have a positive impact on their overall quality of life and well-being.

By addressing the common concerns and misconceptions of individuals with hearing loss, we can better support them in their journey towards better hearing.

1 Retrieved from the World Health Organisation
2 Retrieved from the Singapore Association for the Deaf
3 Retrieved from The Straits Times
4 Retrieved from The Lancet Commissions

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