10 Surprising Facts About Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the US suffer with some degree of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

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

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

Many people are apt to underestimate this answer as well. The answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, could change the way you think about hearing loss.

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

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

2. Around 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss

Out of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to presume that the vast majority are 65 years and older.

But the reality is the opposite.

For those afflicted by hearing loss in the US, around 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 brings us to the next fact…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can cause harm to hearing

1.1 billion people globally are at risk for hearing loss due to subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as loud?

Exposure to any noise above 85 decibels, for an extended period of time, can potentially result in permanent hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Teenagers also have a tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.

5. 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by 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 on account of subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.

So while aging and genetics can cause hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is just as, if not more, dangerous.

6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

No two individuals have precisely the same hearing loss: we all hear various sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.

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

7. On average, people wait 5 to 7 years before pursuing help for their hearing loss

Five to seven years is a long time to have to battle with your hearing.

Why do people wait that long? There are in truth several reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Fewer than 16 percent of family physicians screen 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 think 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 leading reason for the discrepancy is the incorrect presumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been thoroughly 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 evaluating years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Likewise, a current 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 trigger hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can damage the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These drugs 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 liable to suffer from tinnitus

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

If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live shows, safeguarding your ears is essential. Talk to 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.

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.