Types of Hearing Loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss (or nerve-related deafness) involves damage to the inner ear caused by aging, pre-natal and birth-related problems, viral and bacterial infections, heredity, trauma, exposure to loud noise, fluid backup, or a benign tumor in the inner ear. Almost all sensorineural hearing loss can be effectively treated with hearing aids.
- Conductive hearing loss involves the outer and middle ear that may be caused by blockage of wax, punctured eardrum, birth defects, ear infection, or heredity, and often can be effectively treated medically or surgically.
- Mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss and means that a problem occurs in both the outer or middle and the inner ear.
- Central hearing loss results from damage or impairment to the nerves or nuclei of the central nervous system, either in the pathways to the brain or in the brain itself.
Facts on Hearing Loss in Adults:
- One in every ten (36 million) Americans has hearing loss. As baby boomers reach retirement age starting in 2010, this number is expected to rapidly climb and nearly double by the year 2030.
- The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, up to 1 in 3 over age 65. Most hearing losses develop over a period of 25 to 30 years.
- Among seniors, hearing loss is the third most prevalent, but treatable disabling condition, behind arthritis and hypertension.
- The vast majority of Americans (95%) with hearing loss have their hearing loss treated with hearing aids. Only 5% of hearing loss in adults can be improved through medical or surgical treatment.
Facts on Hearing Loss in Children:
- Everyday in the United States, approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns (or 33 babies every day) is born profoundly deaf with another 2-3 out of 1,000 babies.1
- Newborn hearing loss is 20 times more prevalent than phenylketonuria (PKU), a condition for which all newborns are currently screened.2
- Of the 12,000 babies in the United States born annually with some form of hearing loss, only half exhibit a risk factor – meaning that if only high-risk infants are screened, half of the infants with some form of hearing loss will not be tested and identified.3 In actual implementation, risk-based newborn hearing screening programs identify only 10-20% of infants with hearing loss.4 When hearing loss is detected beyond the first few months of life, the most critical time for stimulating the auditory pathways to hearing centers of the brain may be lost, significantly delaying speech and language development.
- Only 69% of babies are now screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age (up from only 22% in 1998). Of the babies screened, only 56% who needed diagnostic evaluations actually received them by 3 months of age. Moreover, only 53% of those diagnosed with hearing loss were enrolled in early intervention programs by 6 months of age.5 As a result, these children tend to later re-emerge in our schools’ special education (IDEA, Part B) programs.
- When children are not identified and do not receive early intervention, special education for a child with hearing loss costs schools an additional $420,000, and has a lifetime cost of approximately $1 million per individual.6
For more information, contact:
- 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ehdi/default.htm.
- 2Grosse S. Cost comparison of screening newborns for hearing impairment and biochemical disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Paper presented at the Newborn Screening and Genetics Conference, May 2001.
- 3Harrison M, Roush J. Age of suspicion, identification and intervention for infants and young children with hearing loss: a national study. Ear and Hearing. 1996;17:55-62.
- 4Elssmann SA, Matkin ND, Sabo MP. Early identification of congenital sensorineural hearing impairment. The Hearing Journal. 1987;40(9):13-17.
- 5National Center on Hearing Assessment and Management.
- 6Johnson JL, Mauk GW, Takekawa KM, Simon PR, Sia CCJ, Blackwell PM. Implementing a statewide system of services for infants and toddlers with hearing disabilities. Seminars in Hearing. 1993;14:105-119.