Hearing Loss Facts

Quick question: how many individuals in the United States are suffering from some type of hearing loss?

What was 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 consider another one. How many individuals in the US under the age of 65 are suffering from hearing loss?

Many people are liable to underestimate this answer as well. The answer, together with 9 other alarming facts, might transform the way you think about hearing loss.

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

People are notoriously surprised by this number, and they should be—this number represents 20 percent of the total US population! Stated a different way, on average, one out of every five people you encounter will have some degree of difficulty hearing.

2. More than 30 million Americans younger than 65 have hearing loss

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

But the reality is the reverse.

For those who suffer from hearing loss in the US, approximately 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 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 cause damage to hearing

1.1 billion individuals worldwide are at risk for hearing loss due to subjection to loud sounds. But what is regarded as loud?

Exposure to any noise above 85 decibels, for a lengthy amount of time, can possibly result in irreversible hearing loss.

To put that into perspective, a regular 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 reach 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Young adults also are inclined 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 suffering from noise-induced hearing loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by hearing loss owing to subjection to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

So although growing old and genetics can result in hearing loss in older adults, noise-induced hearing loss is equally, if not more, hazardous.

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

No two people have exactly the same hearing loss: we all hear various sounds and frequencies in a somewhat different way.

That’s why it’s vital to get your hearing analyzed by a seasoned hearing care professional. Without specialized testing, any hearing aids or amplification products you acquire will most likely not amplify the proper frequencies.

7. Normally, people wait 5 to 7 years before seeking help for their hearing loss

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

Why do people wait so many years? There are in fact several reasons, but the main reasons 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 often partial, meaning some sounds can be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing.
  • People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which takes us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 people who would reap the benefits of hearing aids wears them

For every five people who could live better with hearing aids, only one will actually wear them. The primary reason for the disparity is the incorrect presumption that hearing aids don’t work.

Maybe this was accurate 10 to 15 years ago, but certainly not today.

The evidence for hearing aid effectiveness has been extensively reported. One example is a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found three popular hearing aid models to “provide significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

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

Likewise, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were pleased with their hearing aid performance.

9. More than 200 medications can cause hearing loss

Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can damage 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 with tinnitus

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

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live events, safeguarding your ears is vital. Talk to us about customized musicians earplugs that assure both safe listening and preserved sound quality.


Which of the 10 facts was most surprising to you?

Tell us in a comment.