30+ deafness and hearing loss statistics [2024]

There are 1.5 billion people with some type of hearing loss. Here are the most important statistics you should know.

A Boy With Cochlear Implants watching Television At Home A Boy With Cochlear Implants watching Television At Home

The 3 key takeaways 

  • Billions of people are affected by hearing loss — More than 1.5 billion individuals worldwide suffer from some kind of hearing loss in at least one ear [source].
  • Age affects hearing loss — Adults age 60 and older experience the most hearing loss of any age group [source].
  • Deaf people experience a significant employment gap — At 22.5% the employment gap between deaf and hearing people in the United States is a significant area of concern [3].

Both full and partial hearing loss have a significant impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being. While it’s most commonly associated with elderly adults, hearing loss affects people of all ages, including newborn babies. In fact, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide have some kind of hearing loss in at least one ear. In the United States, hearing loss is considered the third most common chronic physical condition.

Unfortunately, hearing loss tends to deteriorate over time, especially when left untreated. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor or seek out a hearing loss specialist for the proper care. Fortunately, understanding the prevalence of hearing loss and its impacts can be a driving factor when it comes to seeking treatment in a timely manner.

Below, we cover 32 hearing loss statistics to help create education around deafness and hearing loss, proper diagnosis, and treatment.

Hearing loss statistics at a glance

Hearing loss is prevalent worldwide and affects people of all ages. While treatment is available, it can be extremely costly.

  • More than 1.5 billion individuals worldwide suffer from some kind of hearing loss in at least one ear [source].
  • People in developing countries experience the most hearing loss. Of the 70 million people that suffer from hearing loss across the world, 80% of them reside in developing countries [source].
  • Disabling hearing loss affects roughly 430 million people worldwide — or 5% of the world’s population — and requires significant rehabilitation [source].
  • Roughly 43 million children and young adults between the ages of 12 and 35 suffer from disabling hearing loss due to different causes [source].
  • It’s projected that by 2050, almost 2.5 billion people will have some degree of hearing loss.
  • On average, people wait seven years before seeking help for their hearing loss [source].
  • The costs of hearing loss are significant. Direct medical and lost productivity costs associated with hearing loss in American adults added up to $9.5 billion in the year 2002. These costs are expected to increase to $60 billion by 2030 [source].
  • It’s estimated that the economic cost of age-related hearing loss equates to $297,000 over the lifetime of every affected person [1].
  • Hearing loss is considered more prevalent than diabetes or cancer and is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States [2].
  • The employment gap between d/Deaf and hearing people in the United States is a significant area of concern. In 2017, only 53.3% of d/Deaf people were employed, compared to 75.8% of hearing people — an employment gap of 22.5% [3].

More than 1.5 billion individuals worldwide suffer from some kind of hearing loss in at least one ear

Hearing loss in adults

Aging and older adults are especially susceptible to hearing loss, but it’s also known to affect young adults.

  • Approximately 13% of adults ages 18 and older experience some kind of hearing difficulty even with the use of a hearing aid [source].
  • 1.9% of adult women and 2.8% of adult men between the ages of 45 and 64 experience the effects of hearing loss, even with some kind of hearing aid [source].
  • More than 14% of adults ages 65 and over use a hearing aid [source].
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults aged 60 and older experience the most hearing loss of any age group. Over 25% of adults in this age group are affected by disabling hearing loss [source].
  • Roughly 25 million U.S. adults, or about 10% of the adult population, have experienced tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in the past year that lasts 5 minutes or longer [source].
  • An estimated 21% of adults find it difficult to follow conversations when background noise is present. Of this group, 11% experienced tinnitus, and roughly 6% experienced sensitivity to regular sounds [source].

More than 14% of adults ages 65 and over use a hearing aid [source].

Hearing loss in children

While hearing loss is most commonly associated with adults and aging, children of all ages, even newborns experience deafness and significant hearing loss. Children are most susceptible to hearing loss during the prenatal and neonatal phases.

Some of the common causes for infant hearing loss include intrauterine infections,  such as rubella and cytomegalovirus infection, birth asphyxia, hyperbilirubinemia (severe jaundice in the neonatal period), and low birth weight.

During childhood and adolescence, common causes of hearing loss can look like chronic ear infections, meningitis, or a build-up of fluid in the ear.

  • Over 1,700 babies were estimated to have been born d/Deaf in the year 2020 [source].
  • 2020 also saw thousands of infants with some form of hearing loss. It’s estimated that over 6,000 infants experienced hearing loss in one or both ears at the time of birth [source].
  • Many hearing losses in infants and children can be prevented. Roughly 60% of hearing loss cases in children are due to improper maternal and neonatal care and could have been prevented through proper health interventions [source].
  • A 2005-2008 study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that roughly 2.5 million children from the ages of 12–19 experienced tinnitus to some degree. [4]

Roughly 60% of hearing loss cases in children are due to improper maternal and neonatal care and could have been prevented through proper health interventions

Hearing loss statistics in veterans

Men and women in uniform are one of the most susceptible groups of adults to experience hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is so prevalent among U.S. Veterans that the VA is the largest employer of hearing loss medical professionals in the county.

  • Tinnitus is the number one disability among U.S. veterans [source].
  • Over 1.3 million U.S. veterans receive some kind of federal compensation for hearing loss, and more than 2.3 million have received compensation for tinnitus [source].
  • Among veterans, blast-induced injuries accounted for permanent hearing loss [source].
  • The VA is the largest employer of hearing loss medical professionals in the United States. They employ more than 410 audiology health technicians, 1,370 audiologists, and 450 speech-language pathologists to treat hearing loss for veterans [source].

Tinnitus is the number one disability among U.S. veterans [source].

Noise-induced hearing loss

In addition to noise-induced hearing loss from hazardous noise levels in the workplace, individuals, especially young people, are at risk for hearing loss or damaged hearing due to a variety of unsafe listening practices. This typically looks like personal audio devices such as headphones and exposure to high decibel levels at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.

  • It’s estimated that roughly 22 million American workers experience hazardous noise levels in the workplace [source].
  • In environments where individuals are exposed to loud noise, roughly 70% of people never or seldom wear the proper hearing protection [source].
  • Personal audio devices are a big culprit when it comes to hearing loss. It’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals ages 12 to 35 could be regularly exposed to unsafe audio levels on their personal audio devices [source].
  • Additionally, around 40% of adults aged 12 to 35 experience potentially damaging sound levels from loud music at entertainment venues such as bars, nightclubs, and concerts [source].

Personal audio devices are a big culprit when it comes to hearing loss. It’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals ages 12 to 35 could be regularly exposed to unsafe audio levels on their personal audio devices

Hearing aid statistics

While hearing loss can be temporary, in permanent hearing loss cases, a specialist will often recommend hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other medical treatments. Below are a variety of statistics related specifically to hearing aids.

  • In the United States, it’s estimated that roughly 29 million adults could benefit from using hearing aids of some sort [source].
  • As of 2019, roughly 736,900 cochlear devices have been implanted in individuals suffering from hearing loss [source].
  • Of those 736,900 cochlear devices implanted worldwide, 183,100 were implanted in U.S. adults and children [source].

Hearing loss affects billions of people worldwide. While it can be frustrating, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. If you suffer from hearing loss, it’s important to seek out proper treatment and do your research on hearing aids. At audiologists.org, we’re here to help to make your hearing health a little less complicated. Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, and hearing aids and find local providers.

In the United States, it’s estimated that roughly 29 million adults could benefit from using hearing aids of some sort.

Additional sources:

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Hearing health care for adults: Priorities for improving access and affordability.  Washington, DC:  The National Academies Press; 2016.  (doi:10.17226/23446)
  2. Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC.  Summary health statistics for US adults:  National Health Interview Survey, 2012.  Vital Health Stat 10. 2014;260:1-161.
  3. Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Jeffrey Levi Palmer, Stephanie Cawthon, and Adam Sales. National Deaf Center on Post-Secondary Outcomes. Deaf People and Employment in the United States: 2019
  4. Mahboubi H, Oliaei S, Kiumehr S, Dwabe S, Djalilian HR. The prevalence and characteristics of tinnitus in the youth population of the United States. Laryngoscope. 2013;123(8):2001–8.