A recent study found that close to a quarter of Americans have trouble hearing. “An estimated 38.3 million U.S. residents ages 12 and older—23 percent of that population—have some degree of hearing loss, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers Adele M. Goman and Frank R. Lin.”

Hearing impairment is a challenge many people are not often prepared for, as it can be slow to make itself known. One day you might notice trouble hearing the tv or understanding your family. Maybe you’re out with friends and you’re having trouble picking up parts of the conversation — problems hearing speech in noise are often one of the first indications that something is wrong.

Once hearing loss is present, it’s there to stay, so prompt treatment is important. The bright side of the high incidence of hearing loss, though, is that there are a lot of people in the same boat. People often report postponing seeing an audiologist out of embarrassment, but its important to realize that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. For those with hearing loss, no matter where on the scale you find yourself, always remember: you are not alone.

On the technology side, advancements are being made every day. Hearing aids are getting more and more advanced, and smaller and smaller, and let’s be honest, they look kind of neat, too. Assisted listening devices.

The Better Hearing Institute runs down the stats.