Answer the following with either Yes, Sometimes or Never

Does a hearing problem:

  • Cause you to feel embarrassed when you meet new people?
  • Cause you to feel frustrated when talking to members of your family?
  • Cause you difficulty when someone speaks in a whisper?
  • Cause you to feel disabled?
  • Cause you difficulty when visiting friends or relatives?
  • Cause you to avoid going to religious or social events?
  • Cause arguments with family members?
  • Cause difficulty listening to T.V.?
  • Cause you to limit your personal or social life?
  • Cause you difficulty when in a restaurant with relatives or friends?

Tabulate the patient's score using the following scores:

YES = 4 points
SOMETIMES = 2 points
NEVER = 0 points

0-8: No handicap
10-24: Mild-moderate hearing disability
26-40: Severe hearing disability

Taken from Ventry & Weinstein (1983) in Guidelines for Audiologic Screening, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (Panel on Audiologic Assessment), 1997

Want to boost your income?

Get hearing aids

Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director, Better Hearing Institute, Alexandria, VA

According to conventional wisdom, to get ahead in today’s economy it’s wise to work long hours, do a lot of networking and find ways to make your boss look good. But new research reveals that there is a much less obvious way to boost earnings: get your hearing checked, and get hearing aids if it’s necessary.

A new survey by the Better Hearing Institute shows that working Americans who ignore their hearing problems are losing at least $100 billion a year in earnings. Even people with mild hearing loss, who may miss a consonant or a word here and there, will lose income if they can’t completely grasp the latest news at the water cooler or the subtle nuances in a phone message from the boss.

The truth is, whether your hearing problem is treated or not, you are likely to lose some income in the course of your working life. But the research revealed that, on average, the income decline is cut in half for hearing aid owners.

The average amount of income lost by working people who don't get hearing aids ranges from $1,000 a year (for those with mild hearing loss) to $12,000 a year (for those with profound hearing loss). But individuals can lose a lot more. I once spoke to a contractor who blew a $1 million deal because he misheard job specifications that were conveyed in person (he admitted that he had been “too vain” to wear a hearing aid).

Getting hearing aids at a younger age reduces the chance of losing income. You might think of hearing loss as something that happens mainly to older people. But most people with this problem are in the prime of life, including 1 out of 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) and 1 out of 14 “Gen-exers” (ages 29-40). Yet, right now, only 1 out of 4 of Americans with hearing problems are getting treatment.

People are still embarrassed to admit they have hearing problems and get hearing aids. Some incorrectly believe a hearing aid will make them seem odd or out of place or less able to do the job than their co-workers. But if you seem out of touch or just plain stupid because you can’t hear very well, that will be much more noticeable than a modern hearing device in your ear. And that could really hurt your career and reduce your income. In a service economy, good communications skills are critically important.

If you haven’t paid much attention to the latest developments in hearing aids, you will be surprised at how inconspicuous many of them are. Some can be worn inside the ear. And this is the age of iPods and hands-free cell phones, when devices in the ear are increasingly common; so wearing hearing aids that are visible will not seem like a big deal to most people (if that’s what you’re worried about).

Once you try a hearing aid, you’ll probably like them. More than nine out of ten users feel their lives have improved, according to survey findings. The respondents cited a number of specific improvements to their quality of life because of hearing instruments: more effective communications (71%), better social life (56%) relationships at home (55%) and in the work place (48%), improved emotional health (40%), improved mental/cognitive ability (35%), even better physical health (24%).

This nation needs to stop treating hearing loss as a minor problem, an irritating condition that can be safely ignored. Other research shows that hearing problems, when left untreated, disrupt family life, hamper emotional and sexual intimacy and increase the likelihood of depression and other psychological problems. If that doesn’t convince you to take hearing loss seriously, I hope the prospect of making less money will.

Founded in 1973, t he Better Hearing Institute is a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about hearing loss, its treatment and prevention . To receive a free copy of our 28 page booklet  “Your Guide to Better Hearing” visit our website at  or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL © 2005 Better Hearing Institute. 

Internet Sales Policy

Hearing aids are medical devices, and as such they need to be prescribed and fitted by someone trained and qualified to do this. Buying a hearing aid without an initial face-to-face consultation, professional fitting, and subsequent follow-ups could result in you purchasing an ineffective hearing instrument for your loss, or worse, damaging your hearing further. Additionally the consultation includes an examination which can highlight other serious ear health conditions. For these reasons, reNew Hearing does not endorse Internet Retailers who will sell instruments to customers without a face-to-face consultation, and most hearing aid manufacturers will not supply those retailers.

Hearing-loss resources

Patient Apps

Hear Coach developed by Starkey Laboratories may help retrain a patient's brain with a different approach, by providing interactive listening games designed to challenge a patient’s cognitive and auditory skills, helping patients improve their ability to listen in noise so they can participate without as much effort. The app allows patients to track their progress over time while continuously challenging themselves. We encourage the use of "Hear Coach" as part of your word rehabilitation  process to increase your speech understanding.

5 Steps to Better Hearing with Hearing Aids Brochure

In-person and online support groups

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
For families dealing with childhood hearing loss and hard-of-hearing adults who choose to communicate through spoken language and speech reading. Extensive resource list.
Discussion group for people with hearing loss.

American Tinnitus Association
The nonprofit ATA is an organization working to cure tinnitus, as well as a support group for sufferers.

For musicians and music-lovers with hearing loss or who want to avoid hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Association of America
Hearing-loss support and advocacy group and links to hearing professionals.

The Listen-Up Web
For families of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

National Association for the Deaf
Advocacy group for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, with a focus on American Sign Language users.

Say What Club
Online support group of late-deafened, hard-of-hearing, and deaf adults.

General information on hearing loss

League for the Hard of Hearing

Better Hearing Institute
Hearing-aid industry-sponsored site. Includes non-product-specific information.

National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
Government clearinghouse on hearing-loss issues.

Other government agencies

U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy
Resources for disabled people in the workforce.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Information on hearing aids for service veterans.

Veterans Administration and Hearing Aids

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs was created to ensure that those who were in active duty have accurate resources to take care of any health issues caused by their active duty. This system dates all the way back to 1663 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with Pequot Native Americans. Throughout history, the nature of the department became much more sophisticated, and by World War I in 1917, it included insurance services, disability compensation and rehabilitation services.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to overhaul the VA into a 21st century organization that provided care, research and education for those who come back from war. The biggest changes made to the department included these initiatives:

  • Automating GI Bill benefits
  • Creating Virtual Lifetime Electronic Records
  • Developing the capabilities and systems to drive performance and outcomes
  • Eliminating homelessness for veterans
  • Enabling benefits and services that are up to the 21st century standards
  • Improving the mental health of returning veterans
  • Building a veterans Relationship Management to enable convenient, seamless interactions
  • Enhancing veteran access to healthcare and improving the overall experience
  • Establishing strong management infrastructure and operation
  • Performing research to enhance long-term life and overall wellbeing of veterans
  • Transforming human capital management
  • Improving the quality of healthcare and cutting cost
  • Transforming healthcare delivery through health informatics
According to the Hearing Loss Association of American and an estimate from the VA, more than 59,000 military members experienced hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As the most prevalent injury that veterans experience, it has become a growing complaint for veterans. However it is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the Veterans Health Initiative reported that the field of audiology was established during World War II to treat veterans who came home and were suffering from hearing loss. Between 1945 and 1947, 15,000 veterans were seen for hearing loss, 45,000 by 1949 and 71,000 veterans were identified to have hearing loss by 1957. The VA hearing aid program began in the late 1950s, making them a leader in the development of treatment options, evaluation and technologies.

In the 2001 fiscal year, VA audiologists treated more than 316,000 patients and issued a total of 241,458 hearing aids to those who needed them.

War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

After deployment, veterans' healthcare needs and other concerns are handled by the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRRISC). The clinical program focuses on environmental exposure assessment and medical evaluations to meet the needs of the individuals who served our country. This branch also provides extensive education for veterans, family members and other loved ones.

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that there be a branch that helps veterans mange their health conditions, conduct research and apply proper care. By 2001, two centers were open, and by 2008 another center opened its doors to provide wider care. Currently, there is a service center in East Orange, N.J., Palo Alto, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

The WRIISC also conducts an extensive amount of research for veteran health. In order to improve the overall health and wellbeing of veterans, WRIISC clinicians and researchers work with reoccurring problems in returning veterans to meet theirs and others' needs.

The WRIISC environmental exposure assessment allows veterans to pose questions and concerns about their health that may be related to deployment. veterans taking advantage of this service can expect to learn about the latest research available about health effects and the link to environmental exposure. To receive these services you must meet these requirements:

  • Be a veteran who participated in Project 112 or SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense)
  • Be a veteran who took part in military Atmospheric Nuclear Weapon Tests
  • Be a veteran who was active in combat

Help with hearing loss

The department works with a number of people who suffer from hearing loss from being in active duty. veterans who were in areas of combat, especially those who spent an extended amount of time in the force, will find that having trouble hearing is very common. According to the veterans Department website, nearly 10 percent of the disabilities for veterans are hearing difficulties.

Younger individuals who are going into combat now can protect themselves against future ailments by following these protective measures:

Minimize exposure to noisy environments: While it may not be possible for army personnel to determine their level of exposure to loud sounds, they can make sure to avoid it outside of the force.

Wearing hearing protection when around noise hazards: As much as possible, army members should make sure to provide a protective barrier for their ears.

Avoid medications that have effects on ear health: Some medications are known to cause hearing issues such as tinnitus. Before taking any prescription drugs, make sure to check with a doctor that these side effects are not common.

Wearing protective gear on the head to prevent trauma or injury: Covering up the ears and protecting the head against trauma can reduce the chances that debris would cause injury.

Having regular hearing check-ups: The ears are a very important and sensitive body organ, so they should be checked for damage on a regular basis, especially for those individuals who are in a military force.

Our hearing gets worse as we get older – it's just a fact. But veterans may have it a little worse than others because they are commonly exposed to loud sounds. Risk factors for hearing loss increase based on a number of things, including:

  • Not wearing protective gear for the head and ears
  • Certain medications
  • Repeated exposure to loud noises such as gun fire and explosions
  • Ear trauma or injury
  • Trauma to the head
  • Family history of hearing loss and difficulties
  1. Hearing Aid Repairs, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs,
  2. Hearing Aids, Military Audiology Association,
  3. VA Provided Hearing and Vision Benefits, Miltary Benefits,
  4. Veterans, Hearing Loss Association of America,

Related Hearing Aids Reports

» New Tinnitus Treatments will be Highlight of Fifth Annual Conference
» Hearing Damage: Roller Coasters Can Cause Barotrauma
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