Far too often, we hear people say that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just part of growing old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.
These remarks couldn’t be further from the facts.
Here are statistics you need to know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some extent, 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. Which means, the likelihood that you know someone with hearing loss or suffer from hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, very high.
In addition, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and around the globe the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most prevalent health issue worldwide. This truth is, those living with hearing loss outnumber 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 level of hearing loss, we’re still only referring to older people, correct?
This is a accepted myth, but the response is an unmistakable no.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only approximately 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 degree of hearing loss.
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing difficulty.
- 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a perceptible level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
While hearing loss is commonplace throughout all age groups, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. While only around 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate grows to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and around 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.
The causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss is highly common (both in the US and across the globe), impacts all age groups, and has come to be more prevalent with time. What’s the cause behind all of this?
There are numerous causes, but the two central causes of hearing loss are exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
As for 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 result of exposure to loud sounds at the job or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults across the world are in danger of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at elevated volumes.
When it comes to aging, the population of those aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more widespread among this group.
Can hearing aids help?
The greatest defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Avoiding loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using customized ear protection are three techniques that can safeguard your hearing.
But what happens if you currently have hearing loss?
Fortunately, owing to the advances 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 effective.
A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found 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 noted the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after assessing 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 developing hearing loss are unfortunately quite high. But the statistics also show that, even in the event that you currently have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.
Whether you need custom made ear protection to avoid hearing loss or a new pair of hearing aids to amplify the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all types of hearing loss and can help find the right solution for you.