Having hearing loss and having deafness are not the same thing. Many people assume that hearing loss is considered being deaf, but that is not true. Hearing loss is defined as a partial or complete loss of hearing in one or both ears, and the loss of full hearing is measured in decibels. There are many causes and forms of hearing loss; it isn't always a trait people are born with and is a very common problem in the United States. Statistics prove that both partial and total hearing loss is part of a growing problematic trend that is becoming more prevalent and expected to continue increasing in the future.

1. Among adults ages 20-69, males are approximately twice as likely as females to have hearing loss. (Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

There is a tendency for males to experience hearing loss over females. White, non-Hispanic men are at the greatest risk of hearing loss for this age group while African American males have the lowest risk. There are many possible reasons such as a genetic tendency carried in the Y chromosome or that a greater number of men are serving in the military resulting in them experiencing accidents that damage their hearing.

2. In the United States, approximately 2 to 3 out of 1,000 children have hearing loss in one or both ears that is detectable at birth. (Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders) Within the first few days of their birth, hearing tests are administered to every newborn. Hearing loss and deafness are very common problems in newborns. Of all children born with deafness, 90% of their parents do not have impaired hearing. Not all hearing loss occur at birth; 15% of children ages 6-19 have diminished hearing in at least one ear. Having hearing loss affects more than social interactions with their peers; children can miss up to 50% of classroom discussions and instructions during their school years because of their hearing loss.

3.For adults ages 20-69, age is the largest factor in hearing loss with the highest amount of hearing loss occurring between ages 60-69. (Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders) Not all forms of hearing loss are disabling, but as people age, their risk for having a significant hearing loss that is considered a disability greatly increases with each birthday. For ages 55-64, 8.5% have a disabling hearing loss, and ages 65-74 see their risk go up to 25%. Around 50% of adults ages 75 and up experience severe a hearing-related disability.

4. Worldwide, 5% of people experience a disabling hearing loss which equates to approximately 432 million adults and 34 million children. (Source: World Health Organization) A disabling hearing loss is considered to be 40 decibels or higher, and in the United States, approximately 48 million citizens cope with hearing loss. Across the globe, hearing problems are present in every country and cultural group. North America and Europe have the best records on hearing loss, but other countries do not have compiled statistics that cover the entire population. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2050 over 900 million people with experience hearing loss.

5. Regarding children under 15 years old, 60% of hearing loss is attributed to preventable causes. (Source: World Health Organization)

Bacterial or viral infections can lead to hearing loss if left untreated. Pregnant mothers that contract Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) are at a higher risk for their baby being born with hearing loss. CMV is a preventable risk because there are prescription drugs that can clear up these illnesses and prevent permanent damage. However, many people do not have access to healthcare and, as a result, the infection's damage to the ear becomes irreparable. Other treatable causes for hearing loss are Ototoxic medications and exposure to prolonged excessive noise, but the greatest culprit for children's hearing loss is noise damage. Loud music, television, or regular rides on loud transportation modes can damage the sensitive inner ear permanently but are all considered preventable causes of hearing loss.

6. In the United States, 33% of people ages 65-74 and approximately 50% of people 75+ experience hearing loss. (Source: Hearing Health Foundation)

As people age, they begin to experience more physical ailments. Many diseases and health problems are associated with hearing loss. Dementia, cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease are a few of the most common ailments in the elderly population that can have this side effect. Cognitive ability is directly correlated with hearing loss, and studies show that every 10 decibels of hearing loss led to further cognitive decline. Hearing aids provide not only improve hearing but empower people to have a more positive self-image and better social interactions with others without the concern of not understanding what the other person is saying.

7. Out of the people who could benefit from using a hearing aid(s), only 20% of people use one. (Source: Hearing Loss Association of America)

Although a resounding number of people could benefit from using a hearing aid, only a small percentage have and use one. 15 million Americans need help with their hearing loss but avoid seeking medical help, and the average person waits seven years before seeking help with a hearing loss problem. Several factors play a role in the low percentage of hearing aid users. Many people do not have access to healthcare that includes hearing aid coverage while other people worry about the negative stigma of being seen using a hearing aid or the embarrassment associated with hearing loss.

8.In the United States military, approximately 50% of blast-induced injuries resulted in permanent hearing loss. (Source: Hearing Loss Association of America) The most common disability among American military veterans is hearing loss. Each year, around 2.7 million veterans receive treatment or disability compensation for hearing loss related injuries. Veterans serving overseas in war zones are exposed to rapid gunfire, IED bombs, and other blasts. After they return home, many veterans have irreversible hearing damage due to their service-related injury. Cochlear implants, hearing aids, and instruction in sign language are the most common treatments.

9.Approximately 22% of Americans are exposed to dangerous noise levels in the workplace. (Source: Hearing Loss Association of America) Warehouses, factories, construction sites, and night clubs are a few workplaces that have excessively loud occupational noise levels. Often ear protection is not provided to employees, leaving them at risk for hearing damage to develop over time and continued exposure to hazardous noise levels. During 2011-13, 39.1% of American male individuals with hearing loss was related to work-related noise exposure. One of the leading causes of teen and adult hearing loss is noise, and it is preventable but irreversible once the damage is done.

10.Genes are the cause of hearing loss for approximately 50 to 60% of children born with hearing loss. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Genetic tendencies that cause hearing loss occur more often than accidents, congenital problems, and infections. Gene mutations that cause hearing loss can be familial. Most mutations causing hearing loss are non-syndromic, meaning that there are no other symptoms. Of the cases where genes are the cause, 20% also have a medical syndrome, and one in four was born weighing five and a half pounds or less. Most parents of children with hearing loss have normal hearing.

11. In 2018, there were 7,680 hearing aid specialists and 13,300 audiologists working in the United States. (Source: Statista)

A significant number of Americans suffer from partial or full hearing loss, and as a direct result, there is an increased demand for audiologists and hearing aid specialists to meet the growing demand. In 2018, the hearing aid market experienced a 5.95% annual growth. In 2015, half of all hearing aid sales came from independently-owned businesses. The trend is likely to continue an upward climb with more people needing hearing aids and predictions for higher numbers of the population with hearing loss.

12. Compared to 12.1% of Germany’s population and 8% of Switzerland’s population, hearing loss in the United States affects around 10.6% of the population. (Source: Statista) Each country has a different number of citizens with hearing loss. Although Germany has a much smaller population size, they have a higher percentage of affected citizens per capita. The U.S. has fewer cases than Germany based on population size but more than Switzerland. Data on hearing loss from Asia, Africa, and Latin American countries are hard to find and are not inclusive of the entire population. The WHO expects global hearing loss cases to increase by 2050 to a staggering 900 million. Eye-opening statistics can bring a new appreciation for the millions of people that suffer from hearing loss. For example, men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women. Genetics is the primary cause of hearing loss. Many veterans have lost their hearing due to loud blasts during their time in the service, and over 22 million people experience hazardous levels of noise in their workplace. Knowledge brings power and an appreciation for those who experience hearing loss.

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