Quick question: how many people in the United States suffer from some amount of hearing loss?
What was your answer?
I’m willing to bet, if I had to guess, that it was well short of the correct answer of 48 million individuals.
Let’s try one more. How many people in the US younger than 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?
Many people are apt to underestimate this answer as well. The correct answer, along with 9 other alarming facts, might transform the way you think about hearing loss.
1. 48 million people in the United States have some level of hearing loss
People are frequently 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 individuals you encounter will have some measure of difficulty hearing.
2. At least 30 million Americans younger than 65 have hearing loss
Of the 48 million individuals that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to presume 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.
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 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 fact…
4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can damage hearing
1.1 billion people worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss due to subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as being loud?
Exposure to any noise over 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can potentially bring about irreversible hearing loss.
To put that into perspective, a standard conversation is around 60 decibels and city traffic is around 85 decibels. These sounds most likely won’t harm your hearing.
Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can reach 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also have a tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.
5. 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from 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 suffer from hearing loss owing to exposure to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.
So although growing old 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 different
No two people have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a variety of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat distinct way.
That’s why it’s essential to have your hearing assessed by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized 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 pursuing help for their hearing loss
Five to seven years is a very long time to have to struggle with your hearing.
Why do people wait that long? There are in fact several reasons, but the main reasons are:
- Less than 16 percent of family doctors screen for hearing loss.
- Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to perceive.
- Hearing loss is often partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the impression 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 leading reason for the discrepancy is the incorrect presumption that hearing aids don’t work.
Perhaps this was true 10 to 15 years ago, but certainly not today.
The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely 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 observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after examining years of research, determined that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”
Likewise, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
9. More than 200 medications can trigger hearing loss
Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can harm the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. 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 likely to suffer from tinnitus
In one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—prolonged ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.
If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, defending your ears is crucial. Ask us about customized musicians earplugs that ensure both protected listening and preserved sound quality.
Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?
Tell us in a comment.