• Men are more likely than women to experience hearing loss.
• 1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear. This is 48 million people and far exceeds previous hearing care industry estimates of approximately 25 million.
• 20% of the US population aged 12 years and older has hearing difficulties severe enough to impact communication.
• There is a direct link between age and hearing loss: about 18% of American adults between the ages of 45 and 54, 30% of adults between ages 65 and 74, and 47% of adults ages 75 and older have hearing impairments.
• In the United States, three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard-of-hearing.
• About 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises at work or in leisure activities.
• About 60% of deployed military service men and women have noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and other hearing injuries.
• Impairment of auditory activity and tinnitus are more likely to occur in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans than post-traumatic stress syndrome in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
• High levels of cotinine, the chemical that indicates exposure to tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke has been directly linked to higher risks of some types of hearing loss.
SEARCHING FOR A CURE
• Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research in the United States.
• There is currently no cure for the underlying cause of hearing loss, due to damage of sensory and supporting inner ear cells.
• Hearing Health Foundation’s motto Walk-Block-and-Turn helps prevent hearing loss: walk away from a sound, block sound (with ear plugs, ear muffs or hands), and turn down the volume.
• Current treatment options include amplifying the remaining sensory cells with hearing aids or stimulating the hearing nerve directly with cochlear implants.
• Inner ear cell regeneration has the potential to be the newest advancement for curing hearing loss.
• There are two challenges with inner ear cell regeneration: rebuilding the damaged ear cells and reconnecting the cells to the nerve fiber, which will allow for sound information to be sent to the brain.
• Biological researchers have successfully discovered regeneration of inner ear cells in chickens that allow them to regain hearing within 28 days, and are trying to yield these results in mammals.
• With proper funding, a cure for hearing loss could be reached within the next 10 years.
From the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)