How Prevalent is Hearing Loss in the US?

How Prevalent is Hearing Loss in the US?

In Hearing Loss by audseo

Hearing loss is commonly underestimated in its severity and undertreated worldwide. It’s common to think that some degree of hearing loss is no big deal—in fact insurance companies are banking on it, as they continue to regard hearing aids as elective treatment, despite overwhelming research showing their importance in preventing loneliness, depression, social isolation, reducing the loss of earnings in the workplace, reducing the risk of dementia, and increasing personal safety. As we age the risk of hearing loss increases, however it’s a condition which can occur to just about anyone of any age, class or any other demographic. Understanding the risk and the prevalence of hearing loss is one of the first steps in promoting detection and treatment—so how common is hearing loss and how serious is it in the United States as well as worldwide?

We’ve gathered research from the Center for Disease (WHO), and more, to compile this list of hearing loss statistics. The numbers alone may inspire your screen and address a possible hearing loss today!

Hearing Loss Statistics

The National Institute of Health reports that 15% of adults over 18 report some trouble hearing in the United States equaling over 37 million adults- three times more than the entire population of Illinois! In fact, despite being underestimated, it’s the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults in the U.S. This means that as you reach the age of 60 and older, it’s important to screen for hearing loss annually to catch an issue before it begins to become disabling and disruptive to the quality of your life.

Worldwide, this condition affects around 5% of the world’s population consisting of approximately 430 million people! However, WHO predicts that this number will rise to nearly double at 900 million by 2050 if significant changes don’t occur around public education and resources around hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Usage Statistics

While hearing loss is a permanent condition in around 90 percent of cases, the good news is that hearing aids can help. In the United States, around 28.8 million adults could benefit from using hearing aids.

While an estimated 80 percent of hearing loss cases could be effectively treated with hearing aids, only one in four individuals who could benefit use them.

Because hearing loss is commonly mistaken as only a condition which affects older adults, detection and treatment is incredibly low for those in early and mid-life. Sadly only 16 percent of U.S. adults age 20-69 who could benefit from hearing aids have ever tried them. However, even for those 70 years and older who could benefit from hearing aids only 30 percent have ever tried them and even when they do, on average people wait 7 years before seeking help—a dangerously long time to go without hearing loss.

The Danger of Untreated Hearing Loss in Numbers

Many avoid treatment because they fear it will be too expensive. However, it’s important to look at the larger picture. Of those in the workforce with untreated hearing loss, earnings are on average $20,000 less annually than those who used hearing aids or cochlear implants. On a global scale WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 980 billion which includes lost wages, medical cost directly and subsequently incurred as well as the cost to society in accommodations.

While statistics show that older adults who use hearing aids show reduced depression symptoms and improved quality of life, even those of school age show the devastating effects of hearing loss including even a mild hearing loss affecting a child’s ability to comprehend no more than 50 percent of classroom exposure.

Hearing Loss Prevention Statistics

Understanding the causes and the risks of hearing loss are key in prevention and lowering the global rise in hearing loss. One of the most common causes is the use of personal listening devices connected to smartphones, iPods and other personal listening devices. WHO estimates that approximately 50% of persons aged 12-35 years could be exposed to unsafe noise from personal listening devices, and 40% in this age group could be exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues—equaling 1.1 billion globally!

If you suspect you have a hearing loss, don’t wait for it to get worse. If you work in a noisy profession, have noisy hobbies, have a family history of hearing loss or above the age of 60, be sure to schedule your next annual hearing exam with us today!