Far too many times, we hear people claim that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.
These claims couldn’t be further from the facts.
Here are statistics you should know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some amount, affects 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 resided 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 degree of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. So, the probability that you know someone with hearing loss or suffer from hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, relatively high.
In addition, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and worldwide the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most prevalent health disorder worldwide. 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
Although 1 out of 5 people in the US has some extent of hearing loss, we’re still only speaking about older people, correct?
This is a universal myth, but the answer is an incontestable no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only around 35 percent are over the age of 65. Well over 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss. Of those:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some kind 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 noticeable amount of hearing loss in one or both ears.
Although hearing loss is prevalent across all age brackets, the extent of hearing loss does have the tendency to increase with age. Whereas only about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating hearing loss, the rate rises to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 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 common (both in the US and all around the world), affects all age groups, and has become more prevalent over time. What’s the cause behind all of this?
There are several causes, but the two leading causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
Concerning sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer with hearing loss as a consequence of 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 worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss from the use of personal music players played at extreme volumes.
Regarding aging, the population of those aged 65 years and older is growing, and hearing loss is more widespread among this group.
Do hearing aids help?
The optimal defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Staying away from loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and wearing customized ear protection are three strategies that can spare your hearing.
But what if you currently suffer from hearing loss?
Fortunately, owing to the innovations in technology and hearing healthcare, practically all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And distinct from 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 types tested) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
Patients have also observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after studying many 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 consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
The data speak for themselves, and your odds of acquiring hearing loss are unfortunately quite high. But the numbers also demonstrate that, even in the event that you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you need customized ear protection to avoid 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 degrees of hearing loss and can help find the ideal treatment for you.