What's the 3rd most common health condition that affects an estimated 36 million Americans?
If you guessed hearing loss, you're right. Hearing loss affects about 12% of the American population.
Hearing loss is called the silent epidemic not just because of the inability for people to hear clearly, but also because of how gradually it develops over the years.
Losing the ability to hear happens over such a long period of time, that individuals might not even realize it’s happening to them. In many cases, the first people to notice hearing loss are family members, who may be accustomed to frequent requests to repeat themselves or TV volumes that are turned up too loud for the rest of the household.
On average, it takes someone seven years to seek help, get diagnosed and treated for hearing loss. Think of all the missed moments and experiences that can take place over those seven years. Or consider the additional complications that can sneak up when hearing loss is left untreated.
Numerous studies have linked hearing loss to social isolation, cognitive decline and higher healthcare costs. The risk of depression is two times higher, the risk of dementia is five times higher and the risk for serious falls is three times higher in those with hearing loss than without.
What's the #1 cause of hearing loss?
People might be surprised to find out that the answer is not age. 65% of people with hearing loss are under age 65 and most are still in the workplace or school. Only 35% of the hearing-impaired population is over age 64.
Noise is the main cause of hearing loss. An estimated 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from noise exposure. Damaging noise can come from an extremely loud explosion or from continuous exposure to high decibel levels from things like traffic or loud music. It's important to protect your hearing.
However, there are additional conditions that can lead to hearing loss. Other risk factors for hearing loss include:
The good news? 95% of hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids.
Sometimes individuals don't want to wear the devices, because they don't want others to notice their hearing aids. The fact of the matter is that missing parts of conversations is actually more noticeable than wearing a hearing aid.
Plus, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to lower earning potential in the workforce - up to $12,000 less annually. Thanks to today's technologies, hearing aids are being designed smaller than ever before and some models are barely visible.