Around nine million adults in the UK suffer from hearing loss, but only two million seek professional advice to do anything about it.
New research by The Hearing Company reveals that while 92% of us have had our eyesight checked in the past 10 years, only 31% of us have done the same for our hearing.
Despite the fact that one in four have to turn the TV up loud to hear it properly and more than one in five find themselves frequently having to say "pardon", fewer than 15% will subsequently get their hearing checked. While hearing experts recommend we have our hearing checked at least every two years, this informed advice is falling on deaf ears.
Stuart Spencer, professional services manager for hearing aid retailer The Hearing Company, says more often than not it's simply human nature getting in the way. "Hearing loss is a form of disability and our natural reaction is to shy away from admitting it's actually happening to us.
"In the majority of cases the degeneration is gradual, so much so that we don't realise how bad the situation has become until someone else points it out for us. It can take up to 15 years from the first signs of hearing loss to the point when the individual can't take any more and finally seeks professional help."
Stuart points to five distinct stages of hearing loss, each with their own impact not just on the person's physical health but also mental wellbeing.
Stage One: Putting it off
The first clues are missing bits of conversation in busy environments where there is lots of background noise. The typical reaction is: 'if it becomes any worse, I'll do something about it'.
Stage Two: Denial
Degeneration continues. You increase the volume settings on the TV and radio. But you deny the problem is down to your hearing failing.
Stage Three: Realisation
Something triggers your recognition of a problem, often a social occasion with family or friends. You should seek professional help now. However, it's more likely that the unfortunate stigma associated with hearing loss and hearing aids will actually make you avoid telling anyone.
Stage Four: Isolation
Your hearing loss is so bad it is now affecting your daily routine. You don't engage in conversation for fear of looking foolish, you purposely avoid people when out in public.
Stage Five: Final Straw
It's now up to 15 years since your hearing first started to deteriorate. Desperation forces you or a member of your family to seek assistance from an independent hearing care specialist.
For more information or to take an online hearing test visit www.thehearingcompany.co.uk
UK Parents Lounge, 28th April 2009