If you or a loved one has recently started to experience the effects of hearing loss, you are far from alone in the United States.
Across the country, around 15% of adults experience some degree of hearing loss, which adds up to almost 40 million people. That's a large community that play a role of support for people who are just learning about their own hearing conditions.
In fact, virtually everyone knows someone who is facing hearing loss.
Thus, let’s find out more about this condition in the US today.
Hearing loss occurs all over the country and in all social groups
Seniors make up a hefty proportion of the people who contact hear.com. If you're under 54, there's a 1:50 chance of experiencing "disabling" hearing loss. The number rises for those aged bewteen 55-64, hitting 8.5%. For those in the 65-74 years-old range, 25%, and a whopping 50% for the over 75s.
There are also differences depending on your ethnic background. According to the NIH, white Americans are more likely to develop hearing loss, followed by Hispanic Americans, and then African Americans. There are no clear reasons why. Some say it's due to people with darker skin tones possessing more "melanocytes", which protects the body against degeneration of the cochlea.
Nevertheless, hearing loss is still an issue among African Americans – just at a slightly lower rate than white Americans.
Hearing loss seems to be changing over time
Another interesting fact about hearing loss in the US is the way its prevalence has been changing with time. The NIH reports that at least among adults aged between 20 and 69, hearing loss is becoming steadily less common, dropping from 16% between 1999-2004, to 14% by 2012.
Why? Well, it might have something to do with the way the America’s working habits changed. Back in the 1950s, about a quarter of all American employees worked in industrial environments. Nowadays, that's down to about 10%, with office-based work and retail often picking up the slack. That's a positive fact if related to hearing loss, once the exposure of workers' ears to noisy machinery daily is considerably reduced. Yet, this is probably not the only cause.
Smoking less, using better equipment for ear protection and the rising proportion of Hispanics in the US population could all play a role. Among adults who report spending 5 or more years in a noisy job, around 18% suffer "speech frequency hearing loss", illustrating how occupational factors make a difference
Tinnitus is very common in the US
Disabling hearing loss isn’t the only audiological problem affecting Americans. In fact, tinnitus or "ringing in the ears" is potentially just as irritating and more prevalent.
Statistics from the NIH show that 10% of American adults experience at least 5 minutes of tinnitus per year. And 44% of these people report that their tinnitus isn't accompanied by a noticeable degree of hearing loss.
As Americans age, their risk of having tinnitus also increases to a rate of around 27% for those aged between 65 and 84, and 40% of those affected experience almost constant ringing, which can be a discouraging condition.
Not all Americans seek assistance for hearing issues
Despite the fact that hearing loss and tinnitus are very common conditions, a surprisingly high percentage of people experiencing those fail to use the latest hearing aid technology.
About 30 million Americans are thought to be in a position where hearing aids could improve their hearing condition. Yet people don't always seek out for help. Less than a third of those aged over 70 who could benefit from using hearing aids actually use them, and the picture is worst when considering those under the age of 69.
Just 16% of Americans within the working age who could benefit from hearing aids seek a solution – meaning that there's a huge group of people for hear.com to reach out to. It also suggests that millions of Americans struggle every day to hear properly, impacting their working and social lives.
Good news is that this condition is almost all avoidable.
Choose the right solution for your hearing loss
If you are one of the millions of Americans who experience hearing loss but doesn't wear hearing aids, now could be the time to consider start using one.
If you decide to improve your hearing, hear.com holds hearing devices from America's top manufacturers, including Signia, ReSound, Phonak, Starkey, Widex, Unitron, Rexton and Oticon. With modern designs connecting seamlessly with smartphones and other electronic devices, they fit neatly into most active lifestyles. With today's technology, you are able to quickly reclaim your hearing, and hear.com is here to help you.