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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Far too often, we hear people state that hearing loss only impacts “old people,” that it’s just part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.

These comments couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are statistics you need to know about:

Prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Hearing loss, to some degree, affects 20 percent of all Americans, or 48 million people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If everyone with hearing loss in the US lived in the same state, its population would be larger than the whole state of California by 10 million people.

1 out of every 5 people in the US has some form of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is undiagnosed and untreated. As a result, the chances that you know someone with hearing loss or have hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, very high.

Additionally, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and globally the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most common health issue globally. In fact, those living with hearing loss outnumber those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.

Hearing loss by age group

Although 1 out of 5 individuals in the US has some level of hearing loss, we’re still only talking about older people, right?

This is a popular myth, but the answer is an uncontestable no.

According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only about 35 percent are over the age of 65. Well over 30 million Americans under the age of 65 have hearing loss. Of those:

  • 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some degree of hearing loss.
  • 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
  • 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing issues.
  • 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a detectable degree of hearing loss in one or both ears.

Although hearing loss is prevalent throughout all age groups, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. While only about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate grows to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and around 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.

The causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss is exceedingly widespread (both in the US and all around the world), affects all age groups, and has grown to be more widespread as time passes. What’s the cause behind all of this?

There are several causes, but the two main causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.

As for sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that roughly 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer with hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud sounds at the workplace or during leisure activities.

The World Health Organization has also estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults across the world are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss from the use of personal music players played at excessive volumes.

When it comes to aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is growing, and hearing loss is more common among this group.

Do hearing aids help?

The top defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Staying away from loud noise, maximizing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and wearing personalized ear protection are three strategies that can conserve your hearing.

But what happens if you currently suffer from hearing loss?

Fortunately, thanks to the advancements in technology and hearing health care, nearly all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And in contrast to the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, modern day hearing aids have proven to be effective.

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hearing aids (three prominent models tested) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

Patients have also observed the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after examining years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Likewise, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for consumers with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.


The numbers speak for themselves, and your odds of developing hearing loss are unfortunately quite high. But the statistics also show that, even in the event that you have hearing loss, the chances are very good that you’ll benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids.

Whether you need custom made ear protection to prevent hearing loss or a new set of hearing aids to enhance the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all types of hearing loss and can help find the right solution for you.