Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US are afflicted with some type of hearing loss?

What was your answer?

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

Let’s consider another one. How many individuals in the United States younger than 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?

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

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

People are frequently surprised by this number, and they should be—this number is 20 percent of the entire US population! Stated another way, on average, one out of each five individuals you meet will have some amount of difficulty hearing.

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

Out of the 48 million individuals that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the vast majority are 65 and older.

But the truth is the reverse.

For those afflicted by hearing loss in the US, around 62 percent are younger than 65.

The fact is, 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 in danger of developing 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 takes us to the next fact…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can damage hearing

1.1 billion individuals globally are at risk for hearing loss due to subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as loud?

Exposure to any noise above 85 decibels, for a prolonged period of time, can possibly lead to permanent hearing loss.

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

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

5. 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 are suffering from 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 suffer from hearing loss owing to subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

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

6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

No two individuals 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 essential to get your hearing evaluated by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you buy will most likely not amplify the proper frequencies.

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

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

Why do people wait that long? There are in truth several reasons, but the main ones are:

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

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

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

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

The evidence for hearing aid effectiveness has been thoroughly reported. One example is a study performed 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.”

People have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after analyzing years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid effectiveness.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can damage the ear, resulting in hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. These drugs are considered ototoxic.

In fact, there are more than 200 known 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 from tinnitus

In one of the most extensive studies ever carried out on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—chronic ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live concerts, protecting your ears is crucial. Talk to 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.