Hearing loss in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Hearing loss is the partial or total inability to hear. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and can be sudden or develop gradually over time. Degrees of hearing loss can range from mild or moderate to severe or profound. The prevalence of hearing loss in the U.S. affects around 10.6 percent of the population, compared to 12.1 percent of the population in Germany and eight percent of those in Switzerland.

In children, hearing problems may affect the ability to learn spoken language and in the U.S., testing for poor hearing is typically recommended for all newborns. Adult hearing loss can be associated with increasing age, sex, race or ethnicity, as well as educational level. Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults in the U.S. and men are almost twice as likely as women to experience a loss in hearing.

Hearing loss may be hereditary, part of the aging process or be triggered by over-exposure to excessive noise. In the U.S., 17.8 percent of adults who reported exposure to very loud noise at work for over five years experienced a loss in hearing. Other factors that induce hearing loss may include: birth complications, viral or bacterial infections, injury and physical trauma to the ear or head, as well as the negative effects of certain medications or toxins.

Hearing aids, surgical treatments, and other assistive devices are used to improve the ability to hear when hearing loss occurs. There are over 12,000 audiologists and almost 7,000 hearing aid specialists currently practicing in the U.S. Some of the most prominent hearing aid companies based on U.S. sales include: Sonova, William Demant and GN Resound. Between 2015 and 2016, approximately 75,000 individuals with hearing impairments between the ages of 3 and 21 were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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