Virtually no condition in medicine can have as profound an effect on quality of life as even moderate hearing loss in some people. Hearing loss makes even routine communication difficult. High frequency hearing loss often involves loss of ability to hear consonants such as s, f, t, and z, even though vowels can be heard normally. Consequently, people hear but cannot make out what is being said. This may result in frustration, withdrawal from social activities, depression, and marital discord.
People lose the ability to take in the sounds like bird songs, rustling of leaves, and the voices of children. In general, these infringements on the quality of life can be overcome through medical or surgical treatment or with hearing aids. When hearing loss occurs early in childhood, its devastating consequences are more obvious than when it occurs late in life. A hearing deficit in infants can interfere with psychological, emotional, and speech development. It also makes learning a mammoth task and can cause frustration or isolation. Even more mild forms of hearing loss early in life can cause great difficulties, including poor attention and bad grades in school. Frequently, such children are considered “not too bright,” before anyone realizes that a hearing loss is present. When it is corrected, the changes in the child’s performance, attitude, and interactions are often remarkable.
Facts About Hearing Loss:
- More than 40 million people in North America have hearing loss.
- Approximately 40% of the hearing-impaired are under age 65.
- About 2 million children under age 18 are hearing-impaired in the U.S.
- Minor decreases in hearing, especially of higher frequencies, are normal after age 20.
- Some form of hearing loss affects 1 out of 5 people by age 55.
- One-third of people between the ages of 65 and 74 – and one-half of those age 85 and older – have some form of hearing loss.
- Hearing loss is the third leading chronic disability, following arthritis and high blood pressure.
- Between 7 and 10 million people in North American industry have noise-induced hearing loss, virtually all of which was preventable.
- About 15% of college graduates have a level of hearing loss equal to or greater than their parents; a significant cause is listening to loud music.
- In North America 12 million people have hearing aids.
- Of the 12 million with hearing aids, only 6 million actually wear them eight hours a day, seven days a week.