Think of someone you know who has hearing loss. Who do you see?

You envision a relative, but you might not be thinking of your four-year-old niece. A neighbor comes to mind, but he is not the 32-year-old man who lives across the street. Your colleague, 24, seems like an unlikely possibility, too.

This is a trick question. Hearing loss is not just one thing, so it cannot be represented by just one person. Hearing and balance disorders have no single face.

Many faces

In December, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) launched “Faces of Hearing Loss,” a campaign to demonstrate the prevalence of hearing loss in the U.S.

Hearing loss – and related conditions like tinnitus, Ménière's disease, and hyperacusis – can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or age. Hearing loss can affect your four-year-old niece, your 32-year-old neighbor, and your 24-year-old colleague.

To refute common misconceptions that hearing loss only affects older adults and begins later in life, HHF has collected images of individuals living with hearing conditions to capture the diversity of the impact across the country. Participants shared their picture, current age, state of residence, type of hearing condition, and the age at onset or diagnosis.

"Hearing loss – and related conditions like tinnitus, Ménière's disease, and hyperacusis – can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or age."

A common thread

The participants may never meet, but “Faces of Hearing Loss” connects them through their shared experiences. Laura, 28, of New York was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural moderate-severe high frequency hearing loss at three-and-a-half years old. John, 65, of California was diagnosed with tinnitus at 44 following years of service as a Colonel in the U.S. Army. Lexi, 10, of Tennessee has had profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss since age one. She is a bilateral cochlear implant recipient. Heather, 37, of Minnesota developed Ménière's disease at 25. Joe, 23, of New Jersey lives with hyperacusis and tinnitus due to noise exposure as a musician.

Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is the largest nonprofit funder of hearing and balance research in the U.S., with a mission to prevent, cure, and treat hearing loss and tinnitus and to educate the public about hearing health.