Hearing Loss Facts

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

What was your answer?

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

Let’s consider one more. How many individuals in the US under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss?

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

1. 48 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss

People are notoriously shocked by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of every five individuals you encounter will have some degree of difficulty hearing.

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

Of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the majority are 65 and older.

But the reality is the reverse.

For those who suffer from hearing loss in the US, roughly 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

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 fact…

4. Any sound over 85 decibels can cause damage to hearing

1.1 billion individuals worldwide are at risk for hearing loss caused by subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered loud?

Exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, for an extensive period of time, can possibly lead to irreversible hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a regular conversation is about 60 decibels and city traffic is around 85 decibels. These sounds most likely won’t harm 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. Teenagers also have a tendency 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 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 as a result of subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So while 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 different

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

That’s why it’s crucial to get your hearing analyzed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices you buy 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 long time to have to battle with your hearing loss.

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

  • Less than 16 percent of family physicians screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the impression of healthy hearing.
  • People think that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

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

For every five people who could live better with hearing aids, only one will actually wear them. The principal reason for the disparity is the incorrect assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Maybe this was accurate 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 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.”

People have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after reviewing years of research, determined 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 old 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: specific medications can injure the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These drugs 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 performed on hearing disorders associated with 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 attend live shows, safeguarding your ears is critical. Ask us about customized 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.

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