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Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the United States suffer with some type of hearing loss?

What was your answer?

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

Let’s consider another one. How many individuals in the US younger than 65 are suffering from hearing loss?

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

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

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

2. Around 30 million Americans younger than 65 have hearing loss

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

But the truth is the reverse.

For those troubled with hearing loss in the US, approximately 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

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 takes us to the next point…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can cause harm to hearing

1.1 billion people worldwide are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds. But what is regarded as being loud?

Subjection to any sound over 85 decibels, for an extensive period of time, can potentially bring about permanent hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a typical conversation is around 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 attain 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

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 due to subjection 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 equally, if not more, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

No two people have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a mixture of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat distinct way.

That’s why it’s crucial to get your hearing examined by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you acquire will most likely not amplify the correct frequencies.

7. On average, 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 truth many reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Fewer than 16 percent of family doctors test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard 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 brings us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 individuals who would benefit from hearing aids wears them

For every five people who could live better with hearing aids, only one will actually wear them. The central reason for the discrepancy is the incorrect presumption 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 effectiveness has been widely reported. One example is a study carried out 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 analyzing years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

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

9. More than 200 medications can cause hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can harm the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. 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 from tinnitus

In one of the largest studies ever performed on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live events, safeguarding your ears is critical. Talk to us about customized 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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