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Hearing Loss Prevalence

The Prevalence of Hearing Loss in the U.S.

Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D.
Better Hearing Institute, Alexandria, VA

In order to gauge the number of people with hearing loss in the United States, 80,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel were surveyed. This survey, which has been funded by a sponsor of BHI since 1989, is published under the name “MarkeTrak”. The NFO panel is representative of U.S. households.

People with hearing loss are often embarrassed because they think that they are different or that they have a rare condition. The last MarkeTrak survey (2000) estimated that 28.6 million people report a hearing difficulty; that is 10.3% of the U.S. population. So if you have a hearing loss, understand that you are not alone. The number of people with hearing loss by age is provided in the graph.

Here are some general guidelines regarding the incidence of hearing loss:

  • It is estimated that 3 in 1,000 infants are born with serious to profound hearing loss;
  • According to the MarkeTrak survey 1.7% of children (1.2 million) under age 18 have a hearing loss;
  • 18% of “Baby-boomers” (ages 45-64) have hearing loss;
  • 29% of people of age 65 have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss by Age Group


Common Myth #1

“Hearing loss affects only ‘old people’ and is merely a sign of aging.”

Actually it is the reverse of what most people think. The majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. There are close to six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and more than one million are school age. There are numerous cases of hearing loss in children - hearing loss affects all age groups.

Common Myth #2

If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me."

Only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem.

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