Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US suffer from some type of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

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

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

Many people are liable to underestimate this answer as well. The correct answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, may transform the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are normally shocked by this number, and they should be—this number is 20 percent of the total US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of every five people you encounter will have some degree of difficulty hearing.

2. At least 30 million Americans younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss

Out of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s natural to presume that the vast majority are 65 and older.

But the truth is the reverse.

For those afflicted with 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 measure of hearing loss.

3. 1.1 billion teens and young adults are in danger of developing hearing loss worldwide

As reported 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 individuals worldwide are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is thought of as loud?

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for a lengthy period of time, can possibly bring about permanent hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can reach 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Teenagers also have a tendency 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

As reported by 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 as a result of subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So while growing old and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is just as, if not more, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

No two people have exactly the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a variety of sounds and frequencies in a slightly different way.

That’s why it’s crucial to have your hearing examined by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without professional testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices you buy will most likely not amplify the proper frequencies.

7. Normally, people wait 5 to 7 years before seeking help for their hearing loss

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

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

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

8. Only 1 out of 5 individuals who could reap the benefits of hearing aids wears them

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

Perhaps this was true 10 to 15 years ago, but most certainly not today.

The evidence for hearing aid effectiveness has been widely reported. One example is a study carried out 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 noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after studying years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Likewise, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can injure the ear, resulting in hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. 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 likely to suffer with tinnitus

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

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live concerts, safeguarding your ears is vital. Ask us about custom musicians earplugs that assure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Let us know 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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