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8 Surprising Facts About Hearing Loss

May 10, 2017 at midnight

Although disabling hearing loss afflicts 360 million people worldwide -- with 32 million of those being children -- it seems to be something of a peculiar and taboo topic. Nevertheless, in recognition of the month of May being Better Speech and Hearing Month, here are eight basic facts about hearing loss that may surprise you.

1. Hearing Loss Impacts Wages

More than half (60 percent) of people with hearing loss are in work or school environments. Even so, as hearing loss increases, wages decrease and unemployment rates climb. For individuals who do collect an income, those with hearing loss receive a salary of 25 percent less than those without that diagnosis.

2. Causes of Hearing Loss Are Varied

Reasons for hearing loss and deafness fall into two categories: congenital and acquired. Congenital causes impact a child at birth or shortly thereafter and can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors, or by complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Some of these causes include severe jaundice, inappropriate use of certain drugs during pregnancy, and a lack of oxygen at birth.

Acquired hearing loss can occur at any age and may stem from injuries, explosions, infectious diseases, the collection of fluid in the ear, and the consumption of certain drugs. When people use medications to treat drug- resistant tuberculosis, malaria, and cancer, they are especially susceptible to hearing loss.

3. Noise is the Number One Cause of Hearing Loss

In a world surrounded by music, machinery, and motion, it may come as no surprise that noise is the number one cause of hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day.

4. Certain Demographics are Affected Much More

Age remains the most influential factor in determining who will have hearing loss, with a substantially higher number of people age 60 to 69 acquiring the sensory disorder than younger adults. Among those age 20 to 69, men are nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss than women. In this same age range, non-Hispanic black adults have the lowest incidence of hearing loss, whereas non-Hispanic white adults have the highest incidence.

5. Hearing Disorders Have a Substantial Economic Impact

The World Health Organization estimates that unaddressed hearing loss creates a global cost of 750 billion international dollars every year. These costs stem from educational support, loss of productivity, health sector costs (excluding hearing devices), and societal costs.

6. Hearing Loss is Common

Following arthritis and hypertension, hearing loss is the third most prevalent medical condition among seniors. Among all ages, it is the most common sensory disorder.

7. Treatment Options are Varied

Despite its prevalence, hearing loss is rarely treated compared to the number of people who contend with the condition. People with conductive hearing loss may benefit from surgical correction, a bone conduction hearing aid, a surgically implanted device, or a conventional hearing aid. Treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss can range from a change in diet to the medical use of corticosteroids.

8. Audiological Advances Greatly Impact Outcomes

In recent years, identification of hearing loss has improved tremendously. Through ABR testing, universal neonatal hearing screening, and otoacoustic emissions testing, medical professionals can quickly identify the amount and nature of the problem, potential treatment options, and whether newborn babies have hearing loss. Recent advances have also made it easier for people to receive auditory rehabilitation.

Help is available for nearly everyone with hearing loss. Early detection is critical to improving outcomes. If you think or know you're suffering from a loss of hearing, contact a professional today.


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