Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the US suffer with some form of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

I’m ready to bet, if I had to guess, that it was short of the correct answer of 48 million individuals.

Let’s try one more. How many individuals in the United States under the age of 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?

Many people are apt to underestimate this one as well. The correct answer, along with 9 other surprising facts, might transform the way you think about hearing loss.

1. 48 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss

People are generally shocked by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the total US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of each five individuals you meet will have some degree of trouble hearing.

2. More than 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss

Of the 48 million individuals that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to presume that the majority are 65 years and older.

But the reality is the reverse.

For those suffering from hearing loss in the US, roughly 62 percent are younger than 65.

In fact, 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59), 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40), 1.4 million children (18 or younger), and 2-3 out of 1,000 infants have some form of hearing loss.

3. 1.1 billion teens and young adults are at risk for hearing loss worldwide

As stated by The World Health Organization:

“Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.”

Which brings us to the next fact…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can cause harm to hearing

1.1 billion people worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds. But what is regarded as loud?

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for an extended period of time, can potentially result in permanent hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a ordinary conversation is around 60 decibels and city traffic is about 85 decibels. These sounds probably won’t damage your hearing.

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Young adults also are inclined to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or higher.

5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by noise-induced hearing loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss owing to subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So while aging and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, dangerous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

No two people have exactly the same hearing loss: we all hear a range of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat distinct way.

That’s why it’s imperative to have your hearing analyzed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices you buy will most likely not amplify the correct frequencies.

7. On average, people wait 5 to 7 years before pursuing help for their hearing loss

Five to seven years is a long time to have to struggle with your hearing.

Why do people wait that long? There are in fact many reasons, but the main reasons are:

  • Fewer than 16 percent of family physicians screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of healthy hearing.
  • People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which brings us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 people who would benefit from hearing aids wears them

For every five people who could live better with hearing aids, only one will actually wear them. The leading explanation for the discrepancy is the invalid assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Maybe this was accurate 10 to 15 years ago, but certainly not today.

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been thoroughly reported. One example is a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found three prominent hearing aid models to “provide significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

Patients have also observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after assessing years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, the latest MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid effectiveness.

9. More than 200 medications can trigger hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can damage the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These medications are considered ototoxic.

In fact, there are more than 200 identified ototoxic medications. For more information on the specific medications, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

10. Professional musicians are 57 percent more liable to suffer from tinnitus

In one of the biggest studies ever performed on hearing disorders linked with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—prolonged ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live shows, defending your ears is crucial. Ask us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Tell us in a comment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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