Hearing loss statistics at a glance

By | March 15, 2021

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease, affecting people of all ages. This is what hearing loss looks like by the numbers:

Hearing loss statistics 

A woman indicates she can't hear well.
See a hearing care specialist if you think
you might have hearing loss.

Hearing loss facts in general

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

  • Nearly 16% of adults in the U.S. report hearing trouble. 
  • Put another way, one of out of 5 men and one of out of 8 women report they have at least some trouble hearing.
  • The prevalence of hearing loss is twice as common as diabetes or cancer
  • New Jersey had the lowest reported rates of hearing loss, and West Virginia had the highest 
  • About 11% of Americans report tinnitus, or ringing in the ears

Prevalence in older adults

  • The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states “approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.”
  • Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults; 91% of adults with hearing loss are aged 50 and older
  • Those older than 80 have the greatest amount of hearing loss
  • Adult men in their 50s are three times as likely to have hearing loss than women of the same age, but as they age, hearing loss rates become similar among the sexes
  • As women age, they may have more difficulty hearing at lower frequencies than do men. Overall, though, age-related hearing loss most often causes hearing loss in the high frequencies
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Noise-induced hearing loss

One of the most common ways people damage their hearing is through excessive noise exposure, leading to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The CDC reports these numbers on NIHL:

  • About 40 million US adults aged 20-69 years have noise-induced hearing loss.
  • More than 1 in 2 US adults with hearing damage from noise do not have noisy jobs, meaning the exposure is likely recreational.
  • About 1 in 4 US adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage.

Stats on hearing loss in children

  • Approximately 3 of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable hearing loss in one or both ears. Most children in the U.S. receive newborn hearing screening.
  • 15% of school-age children (6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.
  • An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise, according to the CDC

Hearing loss among veterans

On-the-job exposure is particularly common among U.S. Veterans, who can access VA services for hearing aids. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America:

  • Hearing loss and/or tinnitus is the most common service-connected disability among U.S. Veterans.
  • 2.7 million veterans receive hearing care or disability related to hearing loss.
  • Half of all blast injuries experienced by veterans resulted in permanent hearing loss.

Hearing aid and hearing care statistics

How many people wear hearing aids?

  • In 2018, market data showed that about one-third of people with hearing loss wear hearing aids, a number that increases every year. 
  • 83% of those who wear hearing aids report high satisfaction with their devices.
  • In 2020, hearing aid sales fell by 18% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Less than half (46%) of adults who reported trouble hearing had seen a healthcare provider for their hearing in the past 5 years, the CDC reports in the NIHL report mentioned above. 
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Surveys from numerous health organizations have found that hearing aids are under-used, with cost and stigma being top reasons people don’t wear them. For example, a 2020 survey of 644 adults 55+ by SeniorLiving.org revealed the that more than 38% of older adults with hearing loss who don’t use hearing aids labeled cost as the biggest reason for avoiding the devices. That equates to about 6.6 million people.

Related health conditions

  • Ear Infections: Five out of six children experience an ear infection by the time they are three years old.
  • Cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: mild to moderate untreated hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and may be an early indicator for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Depression: People with untreated hearing loss are twice as likely to be depressed than those who have normal hearing or those who wear hearing devices.
  • Hypertension and heart disease: Studies suggest those with heart disease have a greater incidence of hearing loss than those without.
  • Diabetes: Hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes than in those without.
  • Tinnitus: 25% of American adults have experienced tinnitus lasting for at least five minutes in the past year.

Additional information

The good news? Hearing aids not only help you hear better, hearing aids have health benefits, as well. The statistics tell the story of just how much hearing loss impacts our lives, relationships and careers. Find more information here on our website and, when you are ready to get help, visit our directory of hearing healthcare professionals to find a hearing aid clinic near you and make the call.

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