Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the United States are afflicted by some degree 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 people.

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

Many people have a tendency 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 amount of hearing loss

People are typically surprised by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the total US population! Expressed another way, on average, one out of each five individuals you meet 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 individuals that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the majority are 65 and older.

But the reality is the opposite.

For those struggling with 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 degree 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 at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds. But what is regarded as being loud?

Subjection to any sound above 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can potentially lead to irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can achieve 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 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 are afflicted by hearing loss attributable to subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

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

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

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

That’s why it’s essential to get your hearing tested by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices you buy will most likely not amplify the correct 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 ones are:

  • Fewer than 16 percent of family physicians test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s difficult to notice.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing.
  • People think that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 individuals 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 primary explanation for the discrepancy is the false assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid effectiveness 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 recognized 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 current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for consumers with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid effectiveness.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain 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 likely to suffer with tinnitus

In one of the largest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders connected with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—prolonged 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. Ask 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.

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