Here’s the Future of Hearing Loss in the United States

In 2012, about 8.6% of the population or more than 26 million Americans had problems with hearing. Almost a million of these lived in Colorado. Five years after, the percentage increased to 20%, which means there were over 48 million people with such an issue in 2017. What can one person expect then in the coming years? Here’s a forecast: the numbers will increase, but so will the treatment options.

Why More People Will Develop Difficulty in Hearing

Many factors will eventually contribute to the number of people seeking treatment in a hearing clinic in Denver. One of these is age. While hearing loss can develop at any age, it’s common among older adults. Among this population, those vulnerable are between 60 and 69 years old.

When it comes to demographics, the millennials are outpacing the baby boomers, but the latter still represent 22.9% of the entire population. It means 74 million men and women were between 53 and 71 years old in 2017.

There also seems to be a correlation between age and the risks of hearing. Data from the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CDHH) showed 14.2% of hearing loss could occur from 3 to 18 years old. The percentage goes up to 76.3% once their ages fall between 19 and above.

Other studies also revealed that Americans are living longer. It can result in more people eventually developing age-related hearing loss or receiving such diagnosis.

Woman holding an ear figure

Another reason is childhood hearing screening. In 2016, about 3 million children had hearing loss, and among them, nearly half received a diagnosis before they turned three years old.

It could be because of the more comprehensive examination recommendations, like the one issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). According to it, children, including newborns, could be screened for hearing problems.

For example, infants to nine months old can undergo a test called an automated ABR/15-minute test, which measures the electrical activity between the brainstem pathways and the auditory nerves.

Children who might not pass this evaluation can then proceed to another examination once they reach nine months to 2.5 years old.

Noise pollution is also becoming a worsening problem in the United States. A study in 1991 reported that within a decade, the levels of noise in the country increased by 10%. In 2017, research published in Science revealed over 63% of the protected areas had unsafe noise levels.

The study by the University of Southern California-Health Sciences further corroborated this by revealing about 15% of Americans already have noise-induced hearing loss.

The Silver Lining

The outlook isn’t bleak throughout, however. For one, more types of hearing aids are now available. Both the federal and state governments also widened their programs to make treatments more affordable to families.

In 2018, scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center were able to regrow the hair cells of the inner ear. They are responsible for converting sound vibrations to electrical pathways. They, though, can also experience irreparable damage, and the body doesn’t grow them.

Indeed, factors that can result in hearing loss are increasing. What matters more, though, is solutions available are becoming aplenty.