Hearing loss is a common sensory impairment in adults. Yet it often occurs slowly, over decades, without pain or visible symptoms. This may explain, in part, why many people deny they have hearing problems. But statistics tell us:
- At least 28 million Americans have impaired hearing.
- Almost 35 percent of Americans ages 65 to 74 and 50 percent age 75 and older have some degree of hearing impairment.
- About 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous sound levels on a regular basis.
Although hearing loss is common in older adults, the problem affects people of all ages. Some are born with hearing loss. Others lose hearing at a young age.
As baby boomers reach retirement age. the number of people with hearing loss will swell. This is the first generation to grow up with rock concerts, high-tech music amplifiers, jet noise, power lawn mowers and other high-impact noises that can injure the body's delicate hearing mechanism.
Workers in high-noise construction and manufacturingjobs also risk hearing loss. In addition, the Department ofVeterans Affairs spends millions of dollars a year on disability compensation and treatment for hearing loss -it's their single largest outlay for disability.