Quick question: how many individuals in the US suffer from some type 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 individuals.
Let’s consider another one. How many people in the United States younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss?
Most people have a tendency to underestimate this one as well. The correct answer, along with 9 other surprising facts, might change the way you think about hearing loss.
1. 48 million people in the US have some level of hearing loss
People are normally surprised by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the entire US population! Reported another way, on average, one out of every five people you encounter will have some amount of trouble hearing.
2. At least 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss
Out of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s common to assume that the vast majority are 65 and older.
But the truth is the opposite.
For those struggling with 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 form 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 fact…
4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can harm hearing
1.1 billion individuals globally are in danger of developing hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered loud?
Subjection to any noise above 85 decibels, for an extended amount of time, can possibly result in irreversible hearing loss.
To put that into perspective, a standard conversation is about 60 decibels and city traffic is around 85 decibels. These sounds most likely won’t damage your hearing.
Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also tend 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 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 are afflicted by hearing loss as a result of subjection to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.
So while growing old and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is just as, if not more, hazardous.
6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique
No two individuals have exactly the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear various sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.
That’s why it’s critical to get your hearing assessed by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without expert testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you buy will most likely not amplify the proper frequencies.
7. Normally, 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 loss.
Why do people wait so long? There are in truth many reasons, but the main ones are:
- Fewer than 16 percent of family doctors screen for hearing loss.
- Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to notice.
- Hearing loss is often partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing.
- People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.
8. Only 1 out of 5 individuals who could 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 principal explanation for the disparity is the incorrect assumption 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 efficacy has been thoroughly 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.”
Patients have also recognized the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after evaluating years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”
Similarly, the latest MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age 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 damage the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. 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 likely to suffer from tinnitus
In one of the largest studies ever performed on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.
If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live concerts, defending your ears is crucial. Ask us about custom musicians earplugs that assure both protected listening and preserved sound quality.
Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?
Let us know in a comment.