Approximately 48 million citizens in the United States suffer from some form of hearing impairment today. That’s one in every five Americans.
This number may feel staggering to you. It may even seem unbelievable. But believe it. Only then can you empower yourself to do something about it and avoid becoming a statistic.
Let’s take a look at a few facts regarding hearing loss in the U.S. and what you can do to keep your hearing safe.
Fact 1: Over 30 million U.S. citizens below 65 years of age develop hearing issues
Many people associate aging with hearing issues. That can make younger or middle aged individuals oftentimes feel immune to this concern. They may see it as an “old person’s'” problem.
Out of the 48 million struggling today, an astounding 63 percent are under the age of 65. This percentages includes:
- 1/6 of those currently between the ages of 40 and 60
- One of 14 categorized as Generation X (currently between 30 and 40)
- 1.4 million kids below the age of 19
- Nearly 3 in every one thousand babies
Fact 2: 1.1 billion teenagers and those 20-to-30-years-old are susceptible to hearing impairment around the globe
Based on information gathered by the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion teens and 20-to-30-year-olds are vulnerable to hearing loss because of their exposure to hazardous levels of noise through blaring concerts, rowdy night clubs, yelling during sporting events and other boisterous activities. This early onset hearing damage can have disastrous effects on a person’s job and current and future learning abilities, as well as emotional and physical health.
Fact 3: Any resonate above 85 decibels may lead to hearing loss
It’s too easy, and not helpful, to say, “stay away from loud noises.” This leaves so much open for interpretation. For instance, a 14-year-old boy may have a very different idea of what constitutes “loud” from his 70-year-old grandmother.
That’s why it can be useful to define “loud.” According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), any noise louder than 85 decibels experienced over a sustained period is likely to affect hearing. To put it into perspective, here are some common household sounds and their corresponding decibel measurements:
- The whirring of a refrigerator= 45 decibels
- Average discussion= 60 decibels
- Rush hour city traffic= 85 decibels
- Motorcycle revving the engine= 95 decibels
- Headphones turned all the way up= 105 decibels
- Emergency vehicle siren= 120 decibels
- Gun firing or fireworks going off= 150 decibels
Notice that everyday sounds like city traffic, listening to music on headphones or a siren are in the “danger zone.” What makes the difference is the length of time exposed and the distance you are from the jarring noise. The occasional exposure to sounds in this zone is unlikely to damage hearing.
Fact 4: 26 million individuals 20 to 70 experience hearing impairment
Based on information compiled by the NIDCD, 26 million of U.S. citizens, or 15 percent, between 20 and 70 years of age have some form of hearing impairment resulting from exposure to high levels of noise at home, in the workplace or at recreational events. These statistics highlight the very real dangers of sustained exposure to loud noises.
Fact 5: Every person experiences hearing impairment in different ways
Just as each person is unique, each person’s auditory experiences are unique. Everybody takes in auditory stimuli differently. This is why it’s so important to receive an auditory examination before considering the purchase of hearing or amplifying aids. You’ll want these devices to be tailored to your individual needs by using the right amplification. So, seek an evaluation from a qualified person.
Fact 6: Most people delay a professional examination for up to 8 years after hearing is affected
Many people wait a substantial period of time after symptoms occur to address the issues because:
- Fewer than 15 percent of general practitioners routinely check a patient’s auditory functioning
- Oftentimes, auditory issues are subtle and can remain below a person’s radar for a long time
- Most believe hearing aids can’t help a partial loss of hearing
Fact 7: One of every 5 individuals who might be helped by hearing aids actually has them
Only 1/5 of those struggling with poor hearing gets support from hearing aids. This is likely because some people believe that hearing aids might be able to help other people, but not them.
The advancement in hearing aid technology has been profound over the past two decades. Research reported by the American Medical Association, or AMA, found that three specific hearing aid versions offered substantial assistance to people in both softer and louder hearing scenarios. In addition, a carefully conducted customer contentment assessment revealed that approximately 80% of parents of children aged four years and under, were happy with the results.
Fact 8: Several medications have been linked to hearing loss
Most of us don’t read the fine print on every medication we’re given. Many of us don’t even know the side effects and what the medication can do to our bodies. This leaves us vulnerable to the fact that specific medications may affect hearing, cause tinnitus or ringing of the ear and balance issues. You’ll want to speak with your doctor if your hearing has been altered since beginning certain medications.
Fact 9: Career musicians have a high propensity for developing ringing in the ear
In fact, musicians have a nearly 60 percent higher rate of tinnitus than other careers. This is because their ears rarely get a break from loud vibrations from their instruments. Many professional and even amateur musicians are now wearing ear plugs during performances and practices.
Protect Your Ears
Whether you play in a band or you simply enjoy loud concerts, you’ll want to take precautions to keep your ears safe. For more information on how you can protect your ears, ask a local hearing expert.