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Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US suffer from some form 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 people in the US under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Most people are liable to underestimate this one as well. The answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, may transform the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are often surprised by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Reported another way, on average, one out of every five individuals you meet will have some amount of difficulty hearing.

2. Around 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss

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

But the reality is the opposite.

For those afflicted with hearing loss in the US, roughly 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 in danger of developing 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 fact…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can cause damage to hearing

1.1 billion individuals globally are in danger of developing hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds. But what is thought of as loud?

Subjection to any noise over 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can possibly lead to 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 reach 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also have the tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.

5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer 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 exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So although growing old 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 unique

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

That’s why it’s critical to have your hearing evaluated by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without expert testing, any hearing aids or amplification products 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 very long time to have to struggle with your hearing.

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

  • Less than 16 percent of family physicians screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to notice.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing.
  • People think that hearing aids don’t work, which brings 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 reason for the discrepancy is the invalid 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 efficacy has been extensively 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 recognized the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after studying years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were happy with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can harm the ear, resulting in hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. These medications are considered ototoxic.

In fact, there are more than 200 identified 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 most extensive studies ever conducted 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 concerts, safeguarding your ears is critical. Talk to us about custom musicians earplugs that assure both safe 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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