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Far too many times, we hear people say that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just a natural part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon ailment.

These claims couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are statistics you should 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 lived in the same state, its population would be larger than the entire state of California by 10 million people.

1 out of every 5 people in the US has some degree of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is undiagnosed and untreated. So, the likelihood that you know someone with hearing loss or suffer from hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, very high.

Additionally, 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 problem globally. 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 amount of hearing loss, we’re still only referring to older people, correct?

This is a common myth, but the response is an uncontestable no.

According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only about 35 percent are 65 years of age or older. 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 problems.
  • 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a noticeable amount of hearing loss in one or both ears.

While hearing loss is prevalent throughout all age groups, the intensity of hearing loss does have the tendency to increase with age. While 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 widespread (both in the US and all around the globe), affects all age groups, and has come to be more prevalent as time passes. What’s the cause behind this trend?

There are numerous causes, but the two primary causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.

With respect to 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 workplace or during leisure activities.

The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at excessive volumes.

Regarding aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is expanding, and hearing loss is more prevalent among this group.

Do hearing aids help?

The prime defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Evading loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using custom ear protection are three techniques that can salvage your hearing.

But what if you currently have hearing loss?

Fortunately, thanks to the advances in technology and hearing health care, nearly all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And compared with the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, modern day hearing aids have proven to be highly effective.

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hearing aids (three popular models examined) 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 examining 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 people with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

The numbers speak for themselves, and your odds of developing hearing loss are regretfully quite high. But the numbers also demonstrate that, even if you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.

Whether you need custom 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.