Hearing Care Specialists - Hopkins, Glencoe, and Watertown, MN

Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many people in the US are suffering from some form of hearing loss?

What is your answer?

I’m willing to bet, if I had to guess, that it was well short of the correct answer of 48 million people.

Let’s consider one more. How many people in the US younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss?

Most people are likely to underestimate this one as well. The answer, along with 9 other alarming facts, could transform the way you think about hearing loss.

1. 48 million people in the US have some level of hearing loss

People are frequently surprised by this number, and they should be—this is 20 percent of the entire US population! Said another way, on average, one out of each five people you meet will have some degree of difficulty hearing.

2. Around 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss

Of the 48 million people that have hearing loss in the US, it’s normal to assume that the majority are 65 and older.

But the truth is the opposite.

For those struggling with hearing loss in the US, around 62 percent are younger than 65.

The fact is, 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

According to 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 point…

4. Any sound above 85 decibels can cause harm to hearing

1.1 billion individuals globally are at risk for hearing loss as a consequence of subjection to loud sounds. But what is thought of as loud?

Exposure to any sound above 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can possibly bring about irreversible hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a standard conversation is about 60 decibels and city traffic is around 85 decibels. These sounds probably won’t damage your hearing.

Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can achieve 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can achieve 115 decibels. Young adults also have a tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or higher.

5. 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from 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 result of subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So although growing old and genetics can cause hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is just as, if not more, dangerous.

6. Each person’s hearing loss is unique

No two individuals have precisely the same hearing loss: we all hear an assortment of sounds and frequencies in a somewhat distinct way.

That’s why it’s essential 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. On average, people wait 5 to 7 years before seeking help for their hearing loss

Five to seven years is a long time to have to struggle with your hearing.

Why do people wait so many years? There are in truth several reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Fewer than 16 percent of family doctors screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s hard to notice.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception 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 main reason for the disparity is the false presumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Perhaps this was true 10 to 15 years ago, but most certainly not today.

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been extensively documented. 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.”

People have also noticed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after reviewing years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Likewise, a current MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey discovered that, for patients with hearing aids four years old or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can cause hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: certain medications can damage the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. These drugs are considered ototoxic.

In fact, there are more than 200 known 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 with tinnitus

In one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—constant ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, protecting your ears is critical. Talk to us about custom musicians earplugs that ensure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.


Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Tell us in a comment.

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