Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the United States suffer with some type 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 try one more. How many individuals in the US younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Most people are apt to underestimate this one as well. The answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, may change the way you think about hearing loss.

1. 48 million individuals in the United States have some form of hearing loss

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

2. More than 30 million Americans younger than 65 have hearing loss

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

But the truth is the reverse.

For those troubled with hearing loss in the US, approximately 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 fact…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can cause damage to hearing

1.1 billion people worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds. But what is regarded as loud?

Subjection to any noise above 85 decibels, for a prolonged amount of time, can potentially bring about permanent hearing loss.

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

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

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 suffer from hearing loss on account of subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

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

6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

No two people have exactly the same hearing loss: we all hear an assortment of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.

That’s why it’s crucial to have your hearing examined 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. On average, 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 battle with your hearing loss.

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

  • Less than 16 percent of family doctors test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to notice.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the impression of healthy hearing.
  • People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which brings 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 main explanation for the disparity is the incorrect presumption 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 thoroughly reported. One example is a study managed 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.”

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

Similarly, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years old 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: 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 known 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 carried out on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—persistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, protecting your ears is vital. Talk to us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure both protected 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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