Far too many times, we hear people state that hearing loss only affects “old people,” that it’s just part of growing old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.
These claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are statistics you need to know about:
Prevalence of hearing loss in the US
Hearing loss, to some amount, 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 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 type of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. Which means, the probability that you know someone with hearing loss or suffer from hearing loss yourself is, regrettably, very 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 prevalent health disorder around the world. 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
Even if 1 out of 5 people in the US has some degree of hearing loss, we’re still only talking about older people, right?
This is a universal myth, but the reply 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 type of hearing loss.
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing issues.
- 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a noticeable degree of hearing loss in one or both ears.
While hearing loss is common spanning all age brackets, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. Whereas 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 common (both in the US and around the world), affects all age groups, and has come to be more prevalent over 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.
As for sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud sounds at the job 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 music players played at higher volumes.
When it comes to aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is increasing, and hearing loss is more widespread among this group.
Do hearing aids help?
The best defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Avoiding loud noise, increasing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using customized ear protection are three techniques that can conserve your hearing.
But what happens if you already have hearing loss?
Fortunately, due to the advances in technology and hearing health care, virtually all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And unlike the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, today’s hearing aids have proven to be effective.
A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hearing aids (three prominent types examined) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”
Patients have also noticed 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 people with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.
The data 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 customized ear protection to prevent hearing loss or a new set 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 ideal solution for you.