Millions of North Americans struggle with hearing loss every year. Although extremely common, surprisingly, not a lot of information is collectively known about hearing loss and hearing in general. Here are some of the more interesting hearing loss facts we think you might be interested in!
1. 466 million people have hearing loss
Worldwide, over 466 million people have disabling hearing loss according to the World Health Organization. Sadly, this includes three for every 1,000 children born in the United States. This number does not include those suffering from non-disabling hearing loss.
2. Parents with no hearing impairment can still have deaf children
Just because a parent has their hearing or doesn’t have their hearing does not mean their child will experience the same. In fact, it’s been estimated up to 90 percent of deaf children in the world are born to parents with no hearing impairments.
3. Hearing loss increases with age
As we age, the risk of ear issues increases as our ear wax begins to harden. As earwax hardens, it’s tougher to disperse which eventually results in it plugging the ear. This makes it key for older adults to ensure they’re cleaning their ears on the regular.
4. Men are twice as likely to have hearing loss
Between the ages of 20 and 69, men are almost twice as likely to have hearing loss compared with women. Although some have argued this is because of environmental factors, the precise reason why is unknown.
5. Hearing depends on hair
A person’s hearing depends entirely on the small hairs located deep inside the ear. If those hairs disappear or were magically gone one day, you wouldn’t be able to hear. These hairs are a requirement.
6. In-ear headphones increases bacteria
If you’re someone who wears a single earbud in the ear to listen to podcasts, music, or watch video, and then, you notice some hearing loss, we’ve got potentially good news. Difficulty hearing could be a result of disorientation and/or signs of your ears adjusting to stereo sound again, or it may be a result of bacteria. In a single hour of wearing in-ear headphones, bacteria in the ear grows by 700 times. Natural air flow generally prevents this bacteria from accumulating however with earbuds, it plugs the ear.
7. More people can benefit from hearing aids
Call it pride or a lack of knowledge on one’s own hearing loss but when it comes to being hard of hearing, as it turns out, only a few of us end up going through the necessary testing to acquire hearing aids to help. In North America, only 30 percent of the hearing loss population who could benefit from hearing aids end up wearing them.
8. Hearing aids do not cure hearing loss
Hearing aids do not return a person’s hearing back to its normal state. That said, hearing aids do help those hard of hearing to be able to make out conversations, hear the TV, and listen. Contemporary hearing aids are all about improving quality of life.
9. Hearing loss can be hereditary
When we think hearing loss, we usually associate it with coming from listening to loud music or being in loud environments and having exposure to those intense auditory experiences. This isn’t always the case however. Some hearing loss can in fact be hereditary, result from ear infections, and/or be a side effect of taking certain drugs.
10. Loud noises damage cells
Hearing loss can be damaged by short, loud noises, such as an explosion or a physical blow to the ear. When an event like this happens, the loud noises damage the sensory cells in the inner ear in addition to damaging the circuitry which allows these cells to travel from and to the brain. Needless to say, loud noises are certainly a threat which makes protective hearing gear a necessity to anyone working or existing in a loud-noise environment.
11. Hearing loss starts with the highest pitches
There is a wide range of frequencies in sound, with some which we can hear and others we cannot. Hearing loss attributed to age usually begins by affecting the upper pitches. In most cases, by the time a person is in their middle age, the upper range of their hearing will drop from 14,000 Hz to 12,000 Hz.
12. Anything louder than 85 dB is damaging
Loudness plays a key role in hearing loss. The human ear can be safely exposed to sounds between 0 dB and 85 dB. Anything above 85 dB is something which could or will eventually damage the ear.
13. Tinnitus can be debilitating
Tinnitus affects 50 million people in the United States, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Of these people, 16 million have it so severe that they require medical attention. Approximately 2 million people with tinnitus suffer from it so severely that it interferes with their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.
14. People with hearing loss wait
Sadly, people with hearing loss tend to wait a long time – on average, 7 years – before seeking help or bringing it up with a doctor. Although this waiting won’t necessarily make hearing worse, it will affect quality of life. For anyone with hearing loss or who suspect there may have hearing loss, there’s help out there.