KENILWORTH, N.J., Aug. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States with more than 10 percent of Americans suffering from some impairment that affects their daily communication. Yet many people admit they don't often think about hearing loss and are reluctant to use some of the most effective hearing loss prevention and treatment techniques.
A survey released today from the Merck Manuals found that 59 percent of Americans say they rarely think about hearing loss. At the same time, 86 percent of respondents say they have participated in noisy activities in the last 12 months, including listening to audio through headphones or earbuds (58 percent), landscaping their home with a power mower, weed whacker or leaf blower (42 percent) or attending a live concert or event with a band/DJ (34 percent) or professional sporting event (33 percent). These activities all have the potential to damage hearing, depending on the volume and duration of sound.
The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Manuals in July 2018. Other key findings include:
- Nearly 9 out of 10 (86 percent) understand that hearing damage can happen even when something doesn't "sound" too loud, yet just 64 percent say they try to take preventative measures to protect their hearing whenever possible.
- Nearly a third of Americans (32 percent) believe it is rare for adults to develop hearing loss at a young age. Younger adults aged 18-34 (43%) are twice as likely to believe this, compared to older adults aged 65+ (21 percent).
- Two thirds of Americans (66 percent) recognize that if hearing loss runs in your family, you are more likely to be affected by it.
Understanding the causes of hearing loss, along with effective ways to treat it, are crucial steps to limiting the extent to which hearing loss impacts communication and day-to-day life. In a recent editorial on MerckManuals.com, Dr. Lawrence R. Lustig, an expert in hearing loss and treatment, explains that people must consider the length of exposure as well as the volume of the noise when identifying sound that could harm hearing. "Here's a good rule of thumb -- if you have to speak above your normal tone of voice to be heard, chances are your surroundings are too loud," Dr. Lustig said.
Dr. Lustig, who authored the chapters on hearing loss for the Merck Manuals, emphasized that hearing aids are often an effective way to regain some hearing loss. But he noted National Institutes of Health data shows only about one in five Americans who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them, and many wait years before seeking out options.
According to the Merck Manuals survey, 63 percent of Americans said getting hearing aids is essential to quality of life for those with hearing loss. But as Americans get older, they are more inclined to believe getting hearing aids can be very expensive (66% of Americans aged 55+ compared to 48% of those aged 18-54).
The survey revealed other attitudes about hearing aids:
- 55 percent of Americans said getting hearing aids can be expensive
- 52 percent said wearing modern hearing aids is barely noticeable
- 31 percent said wearing hearing aids can be physically uncomfortable
- 20 percent said wearing hearing aids can be embarrassing
"Being aware of noise exposure and taking steps to protect your ears is the best way to prevent the need for hearing loss treatment," Dr. Lustig said. "For people suffering from hearing loss, talking to a doctor can determine how to best keep a loss of hearing from interfering with a productive and enjoyable daily life."
About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals
First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. In 2015, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit MerckManuals.com or MSDManuals.com and connect with us on social media:
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This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals from July 24 - 26, 2018, among 2011 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jamie Haynes at [email protected].
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.