Hearing loss is an incredibly common condition, affecting around 48 million Americans. Because so many people have some degree of hearing loss, it’s important to understand what hearing loss is, who it affects, and what you can do to protect your hearing.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is the inability to hear in one or both ears. Hearing loss does not mean you cannot hear anything, instead sounds will seem muffled or unclear. For many, speech is unclear in conversation, it often seems like other people are mumbling rather than speaking clearly.
If you think you may have hearing loss — or you suspect a loved one may be having a hard time hearing — it’s important to have your hearing checked by a hearing professional. If you have trouble hearing in crowded environments, you turn the volume up higher than others do on the TV or radio, you often ask people to repeat themselves, or you hear a ringing in your ears, then it’s time for a hearing test.
Average Age of People with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can affect anyone of any age. In fact, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. is born with hearing loss. Anyone from a newborn to a person in their 80s can have hearing loss, and it can occur at any point in life.
On average, most individuals with hearing loss fall in between the age groups of 20-69, with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60-69 group.* This often happens because as we age, the hair cells inside the inner ear, which are partly responsible for our hearing, begin to deteriorate naturally.
Although hearing loss is more prominent in “older” individuals, it is important to remember that anyone can develop hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss due to noise exposure is becoming increasingly more common in teenagers and young adults.
How You Can Be Proactive
Your hearing is an important part of your overall health and well-being. It’s important to be proactive by scheduling regular hearing exams with a hearing professional. If you are around loud sounds, it’s also crucial to wear hearing protection. Any sounds over 85 decibels can be detrimental to your hearing. In fact, noise-induced hearing loss affects 17% of adults, leaving them with permanent hearing loss.**
Start being proactive of your hearing by finding a hearing professional near you! Schedule a hearing test and consider having a pair of custom earplugs made if you spend time in noisy environments.
*Hoffman HJ, Dobie RA, Losonczy KG, Themann CL, Flamme GA. Declining Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adults Aged 20 to 69 Years. JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. December 2016 online.
**Niskar AS, Kieszak SM, Holmes AE, Esteban E, Rubin C, Brody DJ. Estimated prevalence of noise induced hearing threshold shifts among children 6 to 19 years of age: The third national health and nutritional examination survey. 1988-1994, United States. Pediatrics 2001;108:40—43.