Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the US are suffering from some degree 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 people.

Let’s take a shot at one more. How many individuals in the US younger than 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?

Most people have a tendency to underestimate this answer as well. The answer, together with 9 other surprising facts, could change the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are often shocked by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the entire US population! Said another way, on average, one out of each five individuals you encounter will have some amount of trouble hearing.

2. More than 30 million Americans under the age of 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 and older.

But the reality is the reverse.

For those troubled 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 form of hearing loss.

3. 1.1 billion teens and young adults are at risk for 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 point…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can injure hearing

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

Subjection to any noise above 85 decibels, for an extensive period of time, can possibly lead to 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 harm your hearing.

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also have the tendency 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 suffering 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 suffer from hearing loss owing to exposure to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

So although growing old and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

No two individuals have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a variety of sounds and frequencies in a slightly distinct way.

That’s why it’s crucial to get your hearing examined by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized 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 loss.

Why do people wait so many years? There are in truth many reasons, but the main ones 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 frequently partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal 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 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 primary explanation for the disparity is the incorrect assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid effectiveness has been extensively documented. One example is a study performed 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 assessing years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, the latest MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were pleased 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 problems. These drugs 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 largest studies ever carried out on hearing disorders connected to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live events, defending your ears is essential. Talk to us about custom musicians earplugs that assure both protected listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Let us know in a comment.