Hearing Loss Facts

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

What is your answer?

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

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

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

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

People are oftentimes surprised by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the total US population! Expressed a different way, on average, one out of every five individuals you meet will have some amount of difficulty hearing.

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

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

But the truth is the reverse.

For those struggling with hearing loss in the US, around 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 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 takes us to the next point…

4. Any sound over 85 decibels can injure hearing

1.1 billion individuals worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds. But what is considered to be loud?

Subjection to any sound above 85 decibels, for a prolonged period of time, can possibly bring about irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Young adults also have a tendency 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 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 growing old and genetics can result in hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is just as, if not more, dangerous.

6. Each person’s hearing loss is different

No two individuals have exactly the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a range of sounds and frequencies in a slightly distinct way.

That’s why it’s essential to get your hearing analyzed by an experienced hearing care professional. Without specialized 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 very long time to have to struggle with your hearing loss.

Why do people wait so many years? There are in truth several reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Less than 16 percent of family doctors test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s difficult to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, which means 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 individuals who would 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 leading reason for the disparity is the invalid 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 efficacy has been thoroughly documented. One example is a study carried out by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found three popular hearing aid models to “provide significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

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

Similarly, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were happy with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can harm 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 most extensive studies ever conducted on hearing disorders associated with musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live concerts, defending your ears is vital. Ask us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure both protected 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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