Far too often, we hear people claim that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.
These remarks couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are statistics you need to know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some extent, affects 20 percent of all Americans, or 48 million people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If everyone with hearing loss in the US lived in the same state, its population would be larger than the entire state of California by 10 million people.
1 out of every 5 people in the US has some degree of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. As a result, the probability that you know someone with hearing loss or have hearing loss yourself is, regrettably, very high.
In addition, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and around the world the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most widespread health disorder worldwide. This truth is, those living with hearing loss exceed in number those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.
Hearing loss by age group
Although 1 out of 5 people in the US has some level of hearing loss, we’re still only talking about older people, correct?
This is a prevailing myth, but the reply is an definitive no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only about 35 percent are over the age of 65. More than 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss. Of those:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some level of hearing loss.
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing difficulty.
- 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
While hearing loss is prevalent throughout all age groups, the intensity of hearing loss does have the tendency to increase with age. Whereas only about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating hearing loss, the rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and about 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.
The causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss is remarkably widespread (both in the US and around the globe), affects all age groups, and has come to be more widespread over time. What’s the cause behind all of this?
There are numerous causes, but the two central causes of hearing loss are exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
Concerning sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that roughly 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud sounds at the workplace or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults across the globe are in danger of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at elevated volumes.
Regarding aging, the population of those aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more widespread among this group.
Do hearing aids help?
The ideal defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Staying clear of loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using personalized ear protection are three tactics that can save your hearing.
But what happens if you already have hearing loss?
Fortunately, owing to the improvements in technology and hearing healthcare, virtually all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And compared with the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, today’s hearing aids have proven to be highly effective.
A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hearing aids (three prominent types tested) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
Patients have also acknowledged the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after reviewing many years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”
Similarly, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
The numbers speak for themselves, and your chances of developing hearing loss are regretfully quite high. But the statistics also demonstrate that, even if you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you need customized ear protection to avoid hearing loss or a new set of hearing aids to enhance the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all degrees of hearing loss and can help find the right solution for you.