Quick question: how many people in the United States are afflicted by some type of hearing loss?
What is your answer?
I’m inclined to bet, if I had to guess, that it was short of the correct answer of 48 million individuals.
Let’s try another one. How many individuals in the US younger than 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?
Most people have a tendency to underestimate this one as well. The answer, along with 9 other alarming facts, may change the way you think about hearing loss.
1. 48 million people in the US have some degree of hearing loss
People are frequently shocked by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of every five people you encounter will have some amount of trouble hearing.
2. More than 30 million Americans younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss
Out of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the vast majority are 65 and older.
But the truth is the opposite.
For those suffering from 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 degree 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 brings us to the next fact…
4. Any sound over 85 decibels can damage hearing
1.1 billion individuals worldwide are at risk for hearing loss caused by subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered loud?
Exposure 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 regular conversation is around 60 decibels and city traffic is about 85 decibels. These sounds most likely won’t harm your hearing.
Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can reach 110 decibels, and a loud rock concert can achieve 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 afflicted by 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 suffer from hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds at work or during recreation activities.
So although growing old and genetics can trigger hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, hazardous.
6. Each person’s hearing loss is different
No two people have precisely the equivalent hearing loss: we all hear a range of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.
That’s why it’s vital to get your hearing evaluated by a highly trained hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you acquire will most likely not amplify the correct 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.
Why do people wait so long? There are in truth many 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 notice.
- Hearing loss is often partial, which means 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 benefit from 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 presumption that hearing aids don’t work.
Perhaps this was accurate 10 to 15 years ago, but certainly not today.
The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been thoroughly reported. One example is a study conducted 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 experienced 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, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were happy with their hearing aid effectiveness.
9. More than 200 medications can trigger hearing loss
Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can injure the ear, causing 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 from tinnitus
In one of the biggest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—constant ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.
If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live events, protecting your ears is essential. Ask us about custom musicians earplugs that ensure both protected listening and preserved sound quality.
Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?
Let us know in a comment.