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Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US are afflicted with some form of hearing loss?

What was 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 individuals in the US under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Many people are liable to underestimate this one as well. The correct answer, along with 9 other alarming facts, could change the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are oftentimes surprised 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 measure of trouble hearing.

2. At least 30 million Americans younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss

Out of the 48 million individuals that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the vast majority are 65 and older.

But the truth is the reverse.

For those afflicted by 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 amount 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 brings us to the next point…

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

1.1 billion people globally are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered to be loud?

Subjection to any noise above 85 decibels, for a lengthy period of time, can potentially lead to permanent hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a typical conversation is about 60 decibels and city traffic is about 85 decibels. These sounds probably won’t damage your hearing.

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Teenagers also tend 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 suffering from noise-induced hearing loss

As reported by 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 attributable to subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

So although growing old and genetics can result in 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 individuals have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear various sounds and frequencies in a somewhat distinct way.

That’s why it’s imperative to get your hearing evaluated by an experienced hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification products 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 struggle with your hearing loss.

Why do people wait so long? There are in truth many reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Less than 16 percent of family physicians test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s difficult to notice.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal 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 chief explanation for the disparity is the invalid assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely reported. One example is a study managed 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 recognized the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after reviewing years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, 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 bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific 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 liable to suffer with tinnitus

In one of the biggest studies ever carried out on hearing disorders connected to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—continuous ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live shows, safeguarding your ears is essential. Ask us about custom musicians earplugs that ensure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.

Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Tell us in a comment.