Far too often, we hear people say that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon ailment.
These statements couldn’t be further from the facts.
Here are statistics you should know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the US
Hearing loss, to some extent, impacts 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 resided 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 form of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is undiagnosed and untreated. So, the chances that you know someone with hearing loss or have hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, very high.
In addition, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and worldwide the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most widespread health disorder around the globe. In fact, 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 degree of hearing loss, we’re still only referring to older people, right?
This is a popular myth, but the response is an unmistakable no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only approximately 35 percent are 65 years of age or older. Well over 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. Of those:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some form 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 perceptible amount of hearing loss in one or both ears.
Although hearing loss is prevalent across all age groups, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. While only around 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate grows to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and around 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), impacts all age groups, and has grown to be more prevalent with time. What’s the cause behind this trend?
There are many causes, but the two leading causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
Concerning sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that around 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults around the world are in danger of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at excessive volumes.
In regard to aging, the population of those aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more prevalent among this group.
Do hearing aids help?
The best defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Evading loud noise, increasing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and wearing custom ear protection are three techniques that can safeguard your hearing.
But what happens if you currently have hearing loss?
Fortunately, owing to the enhancements in technology and hearing healthcare, just about all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And compared with the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, modern day hearing aids have proven to be 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 noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after evaluating 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 data speak for themselves, and your odds of acquiring hearing loss are regretfully quite high. But the numbers also demonstrate that, even in the event that you currently have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you need customized ear protection to prevent hearing loss or a new set of hearing aids to amplify the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all varieties of hearing loss and can help find the ideal solution for you.