Hearing Loss Facts

If you (or a friend or family member) has been diagnosed with hearing loss, you probably have some misconceptions about your condition. Understanding the facts can help make you better equipped to deal with the loss, whether it affects you directly or somebody close to you. Here are some important facts on hearing loss:

  • Hearing loss affects people of all ages, from newborns and toddlers to senior citizens
  • Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the U.S., behind arthritis and cardiovascular disease
  • 48 million Americans—about 20% of the population—report some degree of hearing loss
  • Hearing loss is measured in degrees ranging from mild to profound
  • Hearing loss has been linked to a number of mental, social and physical conditions including depression, dementia, diabetes and falls
  • 85 decibels—equivalent to the noise from city traffic—is considered the threshold for safe hearing
  • The louder the noise, the less time it takes for hearing loss to occur. 8 hours of exposure to 85 dB is equivalent to 15 minutes of exposure to 100 dB
  • Age-related hearing loss is known as presbycusis. One out of three people aged 65 has hearing loss; that number increases to one out of two by the age of 75
  • The most common cause of hearing loss is noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when you are exposed to volume levels exceeding 85 decibels (dB) for an extended period of time
  • There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (affecting the outer and/or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear) and mixed (a combination). 90% of patients experience sensorineural hearing loss
  • Conductive hearing losses are often reversible with medication or surgery
  • Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be cured. However, in most cases hearing aids prove to be an effective method of treatment
  • Hearing aids do not cure hearing loss, but they amplify sounds enough to allow most of those with an impairment to communicate effectively. 95% of those with hearing loss benefit from the use of hearing aids
  • While most forms of hearing loss are unavoidable, NIHL can be prevented by wearing hearing protection when exposed to volume levels that exceed 85 decibels
  • Hearing loss is a progressive condition that develops gradually, making many people unaware of the problem until a family member or friend mentions it. On average, it takes an individual 7 years to seek treatment
  • Signs of hearing loss include speech that sounds mumbled or distorted; having trouble following conversations, particularly over background noise; frequently asking others to repeat themselves; difficulty understanding high-pitched voices, especially women’s and children’s; watching TV at volume levels others find uncomfortable; and social withdrawal/isolation
  • Hearing loss has affected many well-known people throughout the ages, including celebrities, politicians and athletes. A partial list of individuals who have struggled with a hearing impairment include Beethoven, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Pete Townshend, Arnold Palmer, Buzz Aldrin and Ed McMahon