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Hearing Loss Facts

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

What is your answer?

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

Let’s take a shot at another one. How many individuals in the United States under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Most people have a tendency to underestimate this answer as well. The answer, together with 9 other surprising facts, might change the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are often shocked by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Reported a different way, on average, one out of each five individuals you encounter will have some measure 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 common to assume that the majority are 65 and older.

But the reality is the reverse.

For those struggling with hearing loss in the US, approximately 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 measure of hearing loss.

3. 1.1 billion teens and young adults are in danger of developing 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 takes us to the next fact…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can injure 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 above 85 decibels, for an extensive period of time, can possibly lead to permanent hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also are inclined to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or higher.

5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 are suffering 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 owing 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. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

No two individuals have exactly the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a variety of sounds and frequencies in a slightly distinct way.

That’s why it’s imperative to have your hearing examined by an experienced hearing care professional. Without expert testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you acquire will most likely not amplify the proper frequencies.

7. Normally, people wait 5 to 7 years before seeking 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 reasons 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 impression of normal hearing.
  • People think that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 people 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 reason for the discrepancy is the invalid presumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Maybe 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 noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after analyzing 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 patients with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about hearing loss

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

In one of the biggest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—continuing ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live shows, protecting your ears is vital. 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?

Tell us in a comment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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