Far too many times, we hear people assert that hearing loss only impacts “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of growing old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.
These claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are statistics you should know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some extent, impacts 20 percent of all Americans, or 48 million people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If everyone with hearing loss in the US lived in the same state, its population would be larger than the whole state of California by 10 million individuals.
1 out of every 5 people in the US has some kind of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. As a result, the likelihood that you know someone with hearing loss or suffer from hearing loss yourself is, regrettably, relatively high.
Additionally, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and internationally the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most widespread health problem globally. In fact, those living with hearing loss exceed in number those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.
Hearing loss by age group
Even if 1 out of 5 people in the US has some degree of hearing loss, we’re still only speaking about older people, correct?
This is a prevalent myth, but the reply is an unequivocal no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only about 35 percent are 65 years of age or older. More than 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss. Of those:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some type of hearing loss.
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing issues.
- 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a perceptible amount of hearing loss in one or both ears.
Although hearing loss is widespread across all age groups, the intensity of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. While only about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating hearing loss, the rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, about 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and about 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.
The causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss is remarkably widespread (both in the US and across the world), impacts all age groups, and has become more prevalent as time passes. What’s the cause behind all of this?
There are several causes, but the two chief causes of hearing loss are exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
As for sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds on the job or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also reported that 1.1 billion teens and young adults around the globe are at risk of developing hearing loss from the use of personal music players played at excess volumes.
In regard to aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is expanding, and hearing loss is more common among this group.
Do hearing aids help?
The top defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Staying clear of loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and wearing personalized ear protection are three strategies that can conserve your hearing.
But what if you currently suffer from hearing loss?
Fortunately, due to the innovations in technology and hearing healthcare, nearly all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And unlike the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, today’s hearing aids have proven to be highly effective.
A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that hearing aids (three popular models examined) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
Patients have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after evaluating years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”
Likewise, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for people with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
The numbers speak for themselves, and your odds of acquiring hearing loss are regretfully quite high. But the numbers also demonstrate that, even if you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you need custom ear protection to prevent hearing loss or a new set of hearing aids to enhance the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all varieties of hearing loss and can help find the right solution for you.