Hearing loss is a common condition that affects approximately 48 million Americans. Yet despite how prevalent it is, only 20% of people with treatable hearing loss actually wears hearing aids. This means there are millions of people at risk of emotional, mental, physical and even economic problems related to their hearing loss.
In fact, research shows that untreated hearing loss can affect your employment status and yearly income. We review the connection below.
Risk of Unemployment
According to a report published by the National Institute of Health in 2015, which was based on data collected in the early 2000s, people with hearing loss are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed or underemployed than those with normal hearing.
It’s possible this is in part due to the fact that people with hearing loss are over three times less likely to finish high school than those without the condition. The researchers behind this report, however, did take into consideration educational attainment, age, sex and race when analyzing the data. Therefore, while hearing loss can contribute to lower educational levels, it’s not the only cause of unemployment or underemployment.
Risk of Lower Income
Additional research published in The Hearing Journal in 2013 found that people with hearing loss who are employed make 25% less than people with normal hearing. For this group, the mean wage was $23,481, compared to $31,272 for people without hearing loss.
Dr. David Jung, coauthor of the study and fellow in otology and neurotology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, says, “Those are pretty striking associations, but it obviously needs a lot more study before we can draw some hard conclusions about what it all means and, more importantly, what needs to be done about it.”
What Can Be Done?
To prevent hearing loss from impacting your career options or income, it’s important to seek treatment when you first start showing symptoms. As with most medical conditions, the sooner you seek treatment, the better your outcomes will be.