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Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

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

Let’s try another one. How many individuals in the United States younger than 65 are suffering from hearing loss?

Many people tend to underestimate this one as well. The answer, together with 9 other surprising facts, could transform the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are usually surprised by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the entire US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of each five individuals 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 natural to assume that the vast majority are 65 years and older.

But the truth is the opposite.

For those suffering with 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 level of hearing loss.

3. 1.1 billion teens and young adults are in danger of developing hearing loss worldwide

As stated 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 takes us to the next point…

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

1.1 billion people worldwide are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as being loud?

Subjection to any noise over 85 decibels, for an extensive period of time, can potentially lead to irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Teenagers also tend 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 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 due to 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, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

No two people have exactly the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a range of sounds and frequencies in a slightly different way.

That’s why it’s vital to have your hearing analyzed by a highly trained 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 long? There are in fact several reasons, but the main reasons are:

  • Less than 16 percent of family doctors test for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s difficult to perceive.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal 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 principal explanation for the disparity is the incorrect assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely reported. One example is a study managed by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found three popular 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 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{cdb78ae2d183aa312f4188be7f6bc8f99bbda397365b47ecb6e1dcf848d64ae2} were pleased with their hearing aid effectiveness.

9. More than 200 medications can bring about 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 identified 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 with tinnitus

In one of the largest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—continuous ringing in the ears—as a result of their jobs.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live shows, defending your ears is vital. Talk to us about customized 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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