I have hearing loss. Why am I so sensitive to loud sounds?


Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Last updated 2019-11-30T00:00:00-06:00

Hearing loss is the third most common 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.

According to Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, approximately 38.2 million Americans (14.3 percent) report some degree of hearing loss.

Prevalence in 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.


  • Approximately 2-3 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 US receive newborn hearing screening.
  • More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents
  • Fifteen percent of school-age children (6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing aid statistics

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from wearing hearing aids.

  • 3.65 million hearing aid units were dispensed in the United States during 2016.
  • The average age of first-time hearing aid wearers is 70 years of age.
  • Various surveys show people often wait years before they purchase their first hearing aids, some as long as 15 years 
  • Hearing aid prices range from $1,000 to $4,000 per device depending upon the level of technology they contain.
  • Of the 28.8 million Americans (age 20-69) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than 16 percent have ever used them.
  • Of those age 70 and older who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them.

Financial impact of hearing loss

  • According to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss negatively impacts household income on average up to $12,000 per year. The use of hearing aids mitigates that loss by as much as 50 percent.
  • The impact of hearing loss is estimated to be more than $100 billion annually.
  • In a 15 percent tax bracket, the total cost to society in unrealized taxes is estimated to be more than $18 billion.

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 percent of American adults have experienced tinnitus lasting for at least five minutes in the past year.

Additional information

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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