Hearing Loss Set to Double by 2060 in the US
According to research from John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, the rate of hearing loss in the United States is set to nearly double by the year 2060. Extrapolated from current statistics on hearing loss, research found that hearing impairment will be affecting 44 million Americans by 2020, and the hearing loss rate is set to grow rapidly in coming decades, expanding to 73.5 million people by 2060.
This spike represents the consequences of unchecked hearing damage happening today. Hearing loss can get an early foothold through such widespread practices as listening to headphones at dangerously loud volume and other overexposure to loud noise. This projected increase in hearing loss hopes to give Americans, care providers and policymakers a head start in recognizing and preparing for future healthcare challenges on the horizon.
The study based its projections on the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, correlating population growth data and current prevalence data for hearing loss. The study findings show hearing damage outpacing population growth and anticipates a need to develop more widespread hearing health care.
More Severe Hearing Loss Becomes More Prominent
In their overall numbers, the John Hopkins team found that in the next 43 years hearing loss is expected to rise by two-thirds (67%) but within that, moderate-to –severe hearing loss is anticipated to almost double. Moderate or greater hearing loss currently affects around 15.1 million Americans, but by 2060 it is projected to affect 28.3 million, a jump of nearly 90%. This indicates that while hearing loss in general is on the rise, more significant hearing loss is becoming more common and widespread.
In 2020, it is estimated that 29 million adults age 20 and over will have mild hearing loss and 15 million will have moderate or greater hearing loss. In 2060, those numbers grow to 45.2 million cases of mild damage and 28.3 million people facing moderate or greater hearing impairment. A significant number to consider with these statistics is that by 2060 the number of cases of mild-level hearing loss will be greater (45.2 million people) than the total number of people affected by any level of hearing loss today (44 million).
Hearing Loss More Prominent in Seniors
Hearing loss becomes more pronounced with aging, increasing dramatically in populations over 70 years of age. As we age, the mechanics of our ears age with us, and the components of our inner ear become more delicate and susceptible to damage. Additionally, damage to hearing early in life can compound as we age, taking its toll as our ears become more fragile.
At current rates of hearing loss, 55% of those with hearing loss in 2020 will be age 70 or older. Then, with hearing loss on the rise, it is anticipated that by 2060 that people over 70 years old will represent 67% (or two-thirds) of all hearing loss cases.
Additionally, hearing loss rates for those over 80 is expected to nearly triple. For mild hearing loss, it is projected to jump from 4.7 million to 12.2 million in just four decades. Similarly, when looking at moderate or severe hearing loss, today’s figure of 6 million persons affected will balloon to 15.4 million.
Another way to look at these rates is that the projected increase for 70-year-olds in 2060 represents the future population of adults who were around age 20 in 2010. Populations of 80-year-olds in 2060 represent those who were around age 30 in 2010. With hearing loss being detected more frequently and in younger populations, health providers are looking hard at some early hearing damage factors.
Taking Hearing Loss Seriously
The John Hopkins research sprang from other recent research that calls for expanding awareness and healthcare for hearing loss. A report from the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) focused on the growing need for hearing healthcare to be expanded. Hearing loss can have wide-ranging health repercussions, being a mental and physical detriment to those affected.
Both reports advocate for expanding access to hearing devices that can counteract the negative effects of hearing impairment. While current guidelines require health insurance providers to cover hearing exams, cost assistance with hearing devices is not guaranteed. With the number of people dealing with hearing loss poised to rise, healthcare needs to position itself to handle America’s growing hearing needs.
Here at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions, we’re always ready to assist you with hearing your best. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or hearing exam with our team of experts, contact us today.