Basic Facts About Hearing Loss

You are here

Basic Facts About Hearing Loss

Statistics

  • About 20 percent of adults in the United States, 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss.
  • At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss.
  • 60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings.
  • While people in the workplace with the mildest hearing losses show little or no drop in income compared to their normal hearing peers, as the hearing loss increases, so does the reduction in compensation.
  • About 2-3 of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf
  • Estimated that 30 school children per 1,000 have a hearing loss.

Statistics sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Other sources:  National Information Center on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, National Council on Aging, and the MarkeTrak VIII Study by Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D.

Things to Know about Hearing Loss

  • Hearing loss is a major public health issue that is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease.
  • Gradual hearing loss can affect people of all ages -- varying from mild to profound. Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
  • Degrees of hearing loss: mild, moderate, severe, profound.
  • Congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing, while gradual hearing loss happens over time.
  • Hearing loss is an invisible condition; we cannot see hearing loss, only its effects. Because the presence of a hearing loss is not visible, these effects may be attributed to aloofness, confusion, or personality changes.
  • In adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging. There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss.
  • In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in the inner ear that happen as you get older cause a slow but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, and it is always permanent.
  • In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss may happen slowly over time or suddenly. Being exposed to everyday noises, such as listening to very loud music, being in a noisy work environment, or using a lawn mower, can lead to hearing loss over many years.
  • Sudden, noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire and explosions is the number one disability caused by combat in current wars.
  • More often than not severe tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) will accompany the hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself.
  • Other causes of hearing loss include earwax buildup, an object in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, and other conditions that affect the middle or inner ear.
  • For more questions and answers read An Overview of Hearing Loss – Its Signs, Implications and Solutions.

Children and Hearing Loss

If you are a parent of a child with hearing loss go to our Parents page for more information