Prevalence of Hearing Loss
Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. Better Hearing Institute, Washington, DC
In order to gauge the number of people with hearing loss in the United States, 80,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel were surveyed. This survey, which has been funded by a sponsor of BHI since 1989, is published under the name "MarkeTrak". The NFO panel is representative of U.S. households.
People with hearing loss are often embarrassed because they think that they are different or that they have a rare condition. The last MarkeTrak survey (2004) estimated that 31.5 million people report a hearing difficulty; that is around 10% of the U.S. population. So if you have a hearing loss, understand that you are not alone. The number of people with hearing loss by age is provided in the graph above.
Here are some general guidelines regarding the incidence of hearing loss:
- 3 in 10 people over age 60 have hearing loss;
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59), or 14.6%, have a hearing problem;
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40), or 7.4%, already have hearing loss;
- At least 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing problems;
- It is estimated that 3 in 1,000 infants are born with serious to profound hearing loss.
Hearing loss affects only "old people" and is merely a sign of aging.
If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.
Actually it is the reverse of what most people think. The majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. There are more than six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and nearly one and a half million are school age. Hearing loss affects all age groups.
Not true! Only 13% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem.