Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the United States suffer with some form of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

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

Let’s take a shot at another one. How many people in the United States younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss?

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

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

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

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

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

But the reality is the opposite.

For those afflicted by 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 brings us to the next fact…

4. Any sound over 85 decibels can injure hearing

1.1 billion people globally are at risk for hearing loss due to subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as being loud?

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can potentially result in irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Teenagers also have the tendency 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

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 on account of exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So although aging and genetics can result in hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, dangerous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

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

That’s why it’s essential to get your hearing analyzed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without professional testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you buy 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 long time to have to battle with your hearing loss.

Why do people wait so many years? There are in truth many 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 perceive.
  • 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 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 reason for the discrepancy is the false presumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely documented. One example is a study conducted 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.”

People have also observed 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.”

Likewise, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can cause 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 likely to suffer with tinnitus

In one of the biggest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders connected to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live shows, protecting your ears is essential. Talk to us about custom musicians earplugs that assure 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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