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Facts on Hearing Loss
  • Almost 50 million Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear, including 1 in 5 teenagers.
  • 60% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan come home with hearing loss and tinnitus; it is the #1 war wound.
  • Depression and isolation are common among those with hearing loss. 
  • Those with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia, and this risk increases with the severity of the hearing loss.
  • Over a six-year study, the cognitive abilities of older adults (ages 75 to 84) with hearing loss declined 30% to 40% faster than in older adults whose hearing was normal. On average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with typical hearing
  • Men are more likely than women to experience hearing loss.
  • In the United States, three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard-of-hearing.
  • Hearing loss becomes more prevalent with age; hearing impairment occurs in about 18% of American adults between ages 45 and 54, 30% of adults between ages 65 and 74, and 47% of adults ages 75 and older.
  • About 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises at work or in leisure activities.
  • High levels of cotinine, the chemical that indicates exposure to tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke has been directly linked to higher risks of some types of hearing loss.
Facts on Tinnitus
  • 90% of tinnitus cases occur with hearing loss.
  • Tinnitus is sometimes the first sign of hearing loss.
  • 25 million to 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus to some degree.
  • Approximately 16 million people seek medical attention for their tinnitus, and for up to two million patients, debilitating tinnitus interferes with their daily lives.
  • Impairment of auditory activity and tinnitus are more likely to occur in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans than post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Searching For a Cure for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
  • Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is the largest private funder of hearing research in the United States, and has been funding hearing research since 1958.
  • In 2011, HHF launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of senior hearing researchers, funded by HHF, with a goal of delivering a biologic cure for hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • The HRP is comprised of researchers at 11 world-renowned institutions in the US, UK and Canada including Harvard University, Stanford University and Baylor College of Medicine, who have pledged to share technology and data to expedite the timeline to a cure.
  • There is currently no cure for most types of acquired hearing loss, which is usually due to damage of sensory and supporting inner ear cells.
  • Birds and fish spontaneously regenerate their inner ear cells when damaged, restoring their own hearing, but mammals do not.  The HRP is working on ways to yield these results in mammals.
  • A recent discovery revealed that adult mice can be stimulated to regenerate hair cells and partially restore hearing. This proof of concept shows, for the first time, that hair cells in adult mammals can be made to regenerate.
  • JAMA (March 2012).  Hearing Loss in Older Adults. Dane J. Genther, MD; Kevin D. Frick, PhD; David Chen, BS; Joshua Betz, MS; Frank R. Lin, MD, Ph.D.
  • JAMA (February 2013). Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD; Kristine Yaffe, MD; Jin Xia, MS; Qian-Li Xue, PhD; Tamara B. Harris, MD, MS; Elizabeth Purchase-Helzner, PhD; Suzanne Satterfield, MD, DrPH; Hilsa N. Ayonayon, PhD; Luigi Ferrucci, MD, PhD; Eleanor M. Simonsick, PhD; for the Health ABC Study Group
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine (November 2011). Lin, F., MD. One in Five Americans has a Hearing Loss. [Press release].  Retrieved from:
  • “Quick Statistics.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders . National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from:
  • Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery (July 2011) Secondhand Smoke and Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Adolescents.  Lalwani, A.K., MD; Liu, Y.H., MD, PhD; Weitzman, M., MD.
  • Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery. (January 2013) Neuron. Notch Inhibition Induced Cochlear Hair Cell Regeneration and Recovery of Hearing After Acoustic Trauma. Kunio Mizutari, Masato Fujioka, Makoto Hosoya, Naomi Bramhall, Hirotaka James Okano, Hideyuki Okano, Albert S.B. Edge
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