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Hearing Loss Facts

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

What is your answer?

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

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

Most people are liable 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 people in the US have some amount of hearing loss

People are often surprised by this number, and they should be—this number is 20 percent of the total US population! Expressed another way, on average, one out of every five individuals you meet 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 normal to assume that the vast majority are 65 years and older.

But the reality is the reverse.

For those troubled with hearing loss in the US, roughly 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

According to 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 globally are in danger of developing hearing loss caused by subjection to loud sounds. But what is thought of as loud?

Exposure to any sound above 85 decibels, for an extended period of time, can possibly result in 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 achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Teenagers also have a tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.

5. 26 million individuals 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 suffer from hearing loss as a result of subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

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

6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

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

That’s why it’s critical to have your hearing assessed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized 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 so many years? There are in truth several reasons, but the main ones 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 frequently partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of healthy hearing.
  • People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 people 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 main explanation for the disparity is the false assumption 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 extensively documented. One example is a study carried out 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 experienced 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, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for consumers 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 damage 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 conducted on hearing disorders connected with musicians, researchers found 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 participate in live shows, 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?

Tell us in a comment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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