No one wants to deal with hearing loss – either with themselves or with their loved ones – but how common is hearing loss really? How likely is it that you will have someone in your life who is deaf or hard of hearing?
Hearing loss is actually more common than many people realize. In the United States and Canada, millions of people live with hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe. Because mild hearing loss in particular often goes undiagnosed, official numbers do vary, but the statistics available are still sobering.
Research by John Hopkins estimates that approximately a fifth of all Americans 12 years or older have hearing loss in at least one ear. Additionally, 25 percent of Americans aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those 75 and older have “disabling hearing loss”.
In Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society reports a quarter of all adult Canadians have some hearing loss. As expected, the percentage rises with age, and 46% of Canadians aged 45 to 87 have some hearing loss.
Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss isn’t just a problem the elderly face. While older adults are more likely to have hearing loss, children suffer too.
Worldwide, 34 million children have disabling hearing loss. In the United States, 2 or 3 out of every 1000 children are born with hearing loss. In Canada, that number jumps to 6 out of every 1000 children. Canada and the United States both have hearing screening tests as standard practice to all babies born in hospitals.
Some children are born with hearing problems due to genetic causes or complications at birth. However, hearing loss can also occur throughout childhood due to certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, noise exposure, or physical trauma. 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable. Getting infections treated quickly and appropriately and using hearing protection can help protect our children’s hearing.
Dealing with Hearing Loss
Clearly, it is likely that we will experience hearing loss either ourselves or in friends or family members. How can we best handle these hearing difficulties?
If you are personally struggling with hearing loss, go see an audiologist. Even mild hearing loss can impact your emotional and physical health.
If you believe someone you know has hearing loss that they are not treating, encourage them to see an audiologist as well. Too often, our loved ones, especially the elderly, resist hearing help. Whether because of cost or embarrassment, only a small percent of those with hearing difficulties actually seek help. But hearing aids can greatly improve their quality of life and further protect their health.
Contact an audiologist today to have your hearing evaluated and treated.