Busting Myths about Hearing Loss

Don't let false myths stand in the way of hearing well!. winhorse/Getty Images

Hearing loss impacts many areas of life, yet people are often reluctant to discuss how well - or how poorly - they hear the world around them. Myths are often barriers to receiving the help needed to improve the quality of life through better hearing. This article examines some of these myths and debunks, or "busts", them. 

I would know if I had hearing loss.

In most cases, hearing loss occurs so gradually that one can compensate and adapt to the hearing loss.

Turning up the TV, avoiding difficult environments (such as noisy gatherings), or taking control of the conversation are all compensatory strategies. Many people come to see me because a friend or family member pushes the issue even though the person himself does not believe there is a hearing problem. “I can hear fine, but I can’t understand,” or “There’s nothing wrong with my hearing; people just don’t speak clearly anymore!” are common statements.

There are many different configurations of hearing loss. Most people do not lose hearing at all frequencies equally, so they can hear the loudness of certain sounds yet still have hearing loss for other frequencies. In a high-frequency hearing loss, overall loudness from the low-frequency sounds will be present. The missing high-frequency sounds will cause difficulty with the clarity of speech, especially in the presence of background noise.

I’m too young to wear hearing aids!

According to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 28 million Americans have hearing loss, including 17 in 1,000 children under age 18. We live in a noisy world, and constant use of MP3 devices, recreational noise exposure, and occupational noise exposure doesn’t care how old you are; it will damage your hearing.

Genetic hearing loss, hearing loss from illness, and hearing loss related to ototoxic medications can affect people of any age. If you have hearing loss, you are the right age to wear hearing aids.

I’ll get dependent on hearing aids and then I’ll need them all the time.

Hearing aids are similar to eyeglasses in that they correct the issue while you are using them. When you take off eyeglasses, things may seem blurry because you are used to seeing well with corrected vision. It does not mean your eyes have become weaker because you were using eyeglasses. With hearing aids, you will be able to hear sounds better while you are wearing the hearing aids. When you take off the hearing aids, your hearing loss will be the same as before you put on the hearing aids. The difference is that now you are more aware of what better hearing sounds like and the contrast is more noticeable.  Ideally, you want to use hearing aids all the time; hearing well stimulates the auditory pathways of the brain and prevents atrophy from disuse.

Hearing aids won’t work for my hearing loss. 

There are some hearing losses that can not be aided with traditional hearing aids; for example, someone born without a cochlea or auditory nerve. Most hearing losses can be aided with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABI) bypass the cochlea and auditory nerve and are available. Bone conduction hearing aids (using a soft headband or anchored in the bone) can be used even if there is not an external ear. If you were told hearing aids won’t work for your hearing loss, it may be time for a second opinion.

Hearing aids are too expensive.

Many insurance plans do not offer hearing aid benefits. However, if you look at a pair of hearing aids that costs $5000 and break that down into a five-year lifespan, you can expect to pay $3 per day for hearing aids. That’s less than a fancy coffee drink and improves the quality of life!

If you have any other myths about hearing that need busting, contact me, and I’ll include them in the next article!


Quick Statistics (5/20/2015). The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Retrieved August 18, 2015 from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/Pages/quick.aspx


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