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Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US are afflicted by 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 individuals.

Let’s consider another one. How many people in the US younger than 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?

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

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

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

2. More than 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 normal to presume that the majority are 65 and older.

But the truth is the reverse.

For those afflicted by 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 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 brings us to the next point…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can injure hearing

1.1 billion individuals globally are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered loud?

Subjection to any noise above 85 decibels, for a prolonged period of time, can possibly bring about permanent hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels and city traffic is about 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 loud 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 higher.

5. 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 are suffering 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 consequence of subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

So although aging and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, dangerous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

No two individuals have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear an assortment of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.

That’s why it’s vital to get your hearing analyzed by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without quality testing, any hearing aids or amplification devices 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 loss.

Why do people wait so many years? 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 perceive.
  • Hearing loss is often partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of healthy hearing.
  • People believe 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 explanation for the disparity is the incorrect assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Perhaps this was true 10 to 15 years ago, but certainly not today.

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely documented. One example is a study managed 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 observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after studying years of research, concluded 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 of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can cause 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 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 from tinnitus

In one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on hearing disorders connected to 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 participate in live events, protecting your ears is essential. Talk to us about custom musicians earplugs that ensure 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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