For those aged 65 and over, the percentage rises to 50 percent. Hearing loss is considered the fastest growing disability in the world, and its impact is primarily affecting children and youth. Current research indicates that 20 percent of youth between the ages of 13 and 18 now have a hearing loss, and hearing loss among this group is progressing more rapidly than with any other population segment.
Currently, exposure to excessive noise is the number one cause of hearing loss, followed by the effects of aging. Other causes include genetics, illness, infections, tumors, head injuries and medications.
How we hear is a complex process. Sound enters the ear as sound waves and changes in form several times as it travels from the outer ear to the brain. Problems anywhere along this complex pathway can cause hearing difficulties.
The first step in understanding hearing loss is usually the audiogram — a graphical representation of your hearing sensitivity. Your audiologist or hearing aid practitioner can produce and interpret an audiogram for you.
There are many strategies that a hard of hearing person can put into practice to reduce the effects of hearing loss. Those who are hard of hearing must also train those around them about good practices so that communication barriers are minimized.