Far too many times, we hear people state that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of growing old, or that it’s generally an uncommon ailment.
These comments couldn’t be further from the facts.
Here are statistics you should know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some amount, affects 20 percent of all Americans, or 48 million people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If everyone with hearing loss in the US lived in the same state, its population would be larger than the entire state of California by 10 million individuals.
1 out of every 5 people in the US has some kind of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. Which means, the likelihood that you know someone with hearing loss or have hearing loss yourself is, regrettably, relatively high.
Additionally, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and globally the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most widespread health problem in the world. In fact, those living with hearing loss outnumber those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.
Hearing loss by age group
Even if 1 out of 5 individuals in the US has some degree of hearing loss, we’re still only talking about older people, correct?
This is a widespread myth, but the reply is an unequivocal no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only around 35 percent are 65 years of age or older. More than 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. Of those:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some form of hearing loss.
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing issues.
- 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a detectable degree of hearing loss in one or both ears.
Although hearing loss is prevalent throughout all age brackets, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. Whereas only around 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate grows to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, about 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and around 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.
The causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss is highly widespread (both in the US and across the world), impacts all age groups, and has grown to be more widespread as time passes. What’s the cause behind this trend?
There are numerous causes, but the two chief causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
As for sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are suffering from hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds on the job or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults internationally are at risk of developing hearing loss from the use of personal music players played at excessive volumes.
In regard to aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more common among this group.
Can hearing aids help?
The optimal defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Keeping away from loud noise, increasing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and wearing custom ear protection are three strategies that can spare your hearing.
But what if you already suffer from hearing loss?
Fortunately, due to the enhancements in technology and hearing healthcare, essentially all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And in contrast to the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, today’s hearing aids have proven to be highly effective.
A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that hearing aids (three popular types examined) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
Patients have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after analyzing many years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”
Similarly, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
The numbers speak for themselves, and your chances of acquiring hearing loss are unfortunately quite high. But the numbers also show that, even if you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you are looking for custom made ear protection to avoid hearing loss or a new set of hearing aids to amplify the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all types of hearing loss and can help find the ideal treatment for you.