Hearing Loss Facts

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

What was your answer?

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

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

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

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

People are usually shocked 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 meet will have some amount of difficulty hearing.

2. Around 30 million Americans younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss

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

But the reality is the opposite.

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 point…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can harm hearing

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

Subjection to any noise over 85 decibels, for an extensive amount of time, can potentially result in irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can reach 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also are inclined to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or higher.

5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by 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 due to 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. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

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

That’s why it’s vital to get your hearing evaluated by an experienced hearing care professional. Without quality 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 pursuing help for their hearing loss

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

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

  • Less than 16 percent of family doctors screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to notice.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, meaning 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 benefit from hearing aids wears them

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

Maybe this was accurate 10 to 15 years ago, but 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 prominent 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 evaluating years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

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

9. More than 200 medications can cause hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can injure the ear, causing 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 with tinnitus

In one of the most extensive studies ever carried out on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—recurring ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, defending your ears is crucial. Ask us about customized musicians earplugs that assure both protected listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Tell us in a comment.

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