3 Things to Know About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

Woman taking a hearing test to check for hearing loss and see if she needs hearing aids.

About 48 million people have some form of hearing loss. Many people don’t want to admit they have a hearing problem, so they put off getting medical advice. For some, wearing a hearing aid is a sign that they have a problem or they’re getting old. Others say they can’t afford the cost. Here are three things to know about hearing loss and hearing aids.

Affects everyone

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem that Americans experience, right behind arthritis and heart disease. It also impacts otherwise healthy young adults and children. Consider five statistics:

  1. About 33% of people age 65 and older have problems hearing.
  2. Over 70 million individuals age 18 and older experience hearing loss.
  3. Nearly 15% of school-age kids, ages 6 to 19, have hearing loss.
  4. About 2-3 of every 1,000 children are born with a hearing problem in one or both ears.
  5. Nearly 30 million kids age 12 and older cannot hear well in either ear.

Americans of all ages are stressed. Medical experts say chronic stress caused by worries and fears can trigger serious health problems, such as stress-induced hearing loss.

Increases depression, medical costs

Researchers discovered that people with hearing loss struggle to communicate with others. They tend to withdraw and feel isolated from daily living. It’s also a safety issue. People with hearing loss (or who continuously wear earbuds or a Bluetooth device) may not hear emergency sirens, horns honking or people shouting.

Scientists at the University of Michigan studied hearing problems of Americans over age 65. They found that when people in this group had medical issues, those with severe, untreated hearing loss usually visited the hospital or emergency room. In comparison, those with hearing aids tended to visit their doctor’s office, which is less costly. If they did end up in the hospital, they also had a shorter stay.

Better hearing helps

First and foremost, hearing experts recommend focusing on ways to protect hearing. Because once hearing loss occurs, it cannot be restored. If hearing loss does occur, and is confirmed with a hearing test, people can enjoy better hearing with hearing aids. However, most people who could benefit from wearing hearing aids say they’re cost-prohibitive. For example, about 30% of adults over age 70 who have hearing loss don’t wear hearing aids.

As the number of Americans with hearing loss increases, there is a greater emphasis on providing affordable over-the-counter hearing options.

Please note: Children with hearing problems should see a doctor who can rule out other medical issues.

The Hearing Review
American Academy of Audiology