Far too frequently, we hear people state that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon ailment.
These comments couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are statistics you need to know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss, to some degree, impacts 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, regrettably, relatively high.
In addition, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and around the world the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most widespread health issue in the world. In fact, 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 speaking about older people, right?
This is a popular myth, but the response is an definitive 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 level 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 detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
While hearing loss is widespread across all age brackets, the extent of hearing loss does have the tendency to increase with age. While only around 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate increases 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 highly prevalent (both in the US and around the world), affects all age groups, and has grown to be more prevalent with time. What’s the cause behind this trend?
There are several causes, but the two leading causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.
Regarding sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that roughly 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.
The World Health Organization has also reported that 1.1 billion teens and young adults across the globe are in danger of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at extreme volumes.
Regarding aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more widespread among this group.
Can hearing aids help?
The prime defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Evading loud noise, increasing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using personalized ear protection are three techniques that can conserve your hearing.
But what happens if you already suffer from hearing loss?
Fortunately, thanks to the developments in technology and hearing health care, nearly all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And distinct from the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, modern day hearing aids have proven to be 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 observed 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.”
Similarly, 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 numbers speak for themselves, and your chances of acquiring 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 require custom ear protection to prevent 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.