Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the United States are suffering from some degree of hearing loss?

What was your answer?

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

Let’s consider another one. How many people in the US under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Most people have a tendency to underestimate this one as well. The correct answer, along with 9 other alarming facts, might transform the way you think about hearing loss.

1. 48 million individuals in the US have some level of hearing loss

People are oftentimes surprised by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of each five people you encounter will have some amount of trouble hearing.

2. At least 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss

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

But the reality is the opposite.

For those suffering with hearing loss in the US, approximately 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 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 takes us to the next fact…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can injure hearing

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

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for a prolonged amount of time, can potentially lead to permanent hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also tend to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.

5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from 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 due to exposure 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, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

No two people have exactly the same hearing loss: we all hear a mixture of sounds and frequencies in a slightly distinct way.

That’s why it’s imperative to have your hearing analyzed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without professional testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you acquire will most likely not amplify the correct 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.

Why do people wait so long? There are in fact 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 hard to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of healthy hearing.
  • People think that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 people 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 chief reason for the discrepancy is the incorrect assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy 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 observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after examining years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Likewise, the latest MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were happy with their hearing aid effectiveness.

9. More than 200 medications can trigger 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 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 biggest studies ever performed on hearing disorders linked with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—continuing ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live concerts, defending your ears is essential. Talk to us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Let us know in a comment.

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