Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the US suffer from some type of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

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

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

Most people are apt to underestimate this answer as well. The correct answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, might change the way you think about hearing loss.

1. 48 million people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss

People are commonly surprised by this number, and they should be—this number is 20 percent of the total US population! Said another way, on average, one out of every five people you encounter will have some degree of difficulty 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 presume that the majority are 65 years and older.

But the truth is the reverse.

For those afflicted with hearing loss in the US, around 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 at risk for 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 brings us to the next point…

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

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

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for a prolonged period of time, can possibly result in permanent hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a regular conversation is around 60 decibels and city traffic is around 85 decibels. These sounds probably won’t damage 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 tend 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 are afflicted by hearing loss on account of exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

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

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is different

No two people have exactly the same hearing loss: we all hear various sounds and frequencies in a slightly distinct way.

That’s why it’s essential to get your hearing evaluated by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without expert testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices you acquire 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 very long time to have to struggle with your hearing.

Why do people wait so long? There are in truth many 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 difficult to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the impression 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 could benefit from hearing aids wears them

For every five people who could live better with hearing aids, only one will actually wear them. The principal reason for the discrepancy is the incorrect 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 thoroughly 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.”

Patients have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after assessing years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

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

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 biggest studies ever carried out on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—prolonged ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, protecting your ears is essential. Ask us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure 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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