Hearing Loss Facts

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

What was your answer?

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

Let’s try one more. How many people in the United States under the age of 65 are afflicted by hearing loss?

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

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

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

2. At least 30 million Americans younger than 65 suffer from hearing loss

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

But the reality is the opposite.

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

In fact, 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

As reported 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 takes us to the next point…

4. Any sound in excess of 85 decibels can injure hearing

1.1 billion individuals worldwide are in danger of developing hearing loss caused by subjection to loud sounds. But what is considered loud?

Subjection to any sound above 85 decibels, for a prolonged period of time, can potentially bring about irreversible hearing loss.

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

Motorcycles, however, can reach 100 decibels, power saws can attain 110 decibels, and a rowdy rock concert can reach 115 decibels. Teenagers also have a tendency to listen to their iPods or MP3 players at around 100 decibels or more.

5. 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 are afflicted by 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 attributable to exposure to loud sounds at work or during leisure activities.

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

6. Everyone’s hearing loss is unique

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

That’s why it’s essential to have your hearing assessed by an experienced hearing care professional. Without professional 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 pursuing help for their hearing loss

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

Why do people wait that long? There are in fact several reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Less than 16 percent of family doctors screen for hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is so gradual that it’s difficult to notice.
  • Hearing loss is frequently partial, which means some sounds can be heard normally, creating the impression of normal hearing.
  • People believe that hearing aids don’t work, which brings us to the next fact.

8. Only 1 out of 5 individuals who could 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 central reason for the discrepancy is the invalid assumption that hearing aids don’t work.

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

The evidence for hearing aid efficacy has been widely reported. One example is a study performed 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.”

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

Similarly, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for patients with hearing aids four years of age 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: specific medications can damage the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These medications 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 largest studies ever conducted on hearing disorders linked to musicians, researchers found that musicians are 57 percent more likely to be affected by tinnitus—recurring ringing in the ears—as a result of their work.

If you’re a musician, or if you attend live shows, protecting your ears is vital. Ask 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.