Hearing impairment common, perhaps preventable, chronic disease among middle-aged adults

Feb 21, 2011

Several factors may be associated with hearing impairment in middle-aged adults, including cardiovascular disease risks, being male and having a noisy job, according to a report published online first in the Archives of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The paper will be appear in the May print issue of the journal.

In background information in the article, the authors estimate that at least 29 million Americans have a . "Population-based epidemiological prevalence estimates range from 20.6 percent in adults aged 48 to 59 years to 90 percent in adults older than 80 years," the author report. "The severity of this condition has been shown to be associated with a poorer quality of life, communication difficulties, impaired activities of daily living, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction."

Scott D. Nash, M.S., from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and colleagues analyzed data collected as part of the Beaver Dam Offspring Study, an epidemiological study of aging. The study included 3,285 participants ranging in age from 21 to 84 years, with an average age of 49. The researchers evaluated hearing impairment as a pure-tone average greater than 25 decibels hearing level in either ear, and also measured word recognition at different sound levels and with male and female voices. Study participants also provided information about medical history, behaviors and environmental factors.

The prevalence of hearing impairment was 14.1 percent and the average word recognition in quiet was 89.6 percent, but 63.5 percent in competing message environment. "Hearing impairment was more likely in men, in participants with lower education levels, and in those working in noisy occupations or with a history of ear surgery," the authors report. Other factors suggest there may be cardiovascular correlates associated with hearing impairment as based on the word recognition scores, including statin use, a higher hematocrit percentage (a marker of blood viscosity), and intima-media (artery walls) thickness. The authors note that participants in the study also had significantly higher odds of a parental history of hearing impairment and that this is a highly heritable condition.

"Hearing impairment is a common condition in middle-aged adults. risk factors may be important correlates of age-related auditory dysfunction." The authors conclude that if hearing impairment is detected early, it may be a preventable chronic disease."

Explore further: Smoke signals: New evidence links air pollution to congenital defects

More information: Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. doi:10.1001/archoto.2011.15

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study examines prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Jul 28, 2008

Hearing loss may be more prevalent in American adults than previously reported, according to a study in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Memory impairment associated with sound processing disorder

Jul 21, 2008

Mild memory impairment may be associated with central auditory processing dysfunction, or difficulty hearing in complex situations with competing noise, such as hearing a single conversation amid several other conversations, ...

Hearing loss associated with development of dementia

Feb 14, 2011

Older adults with hearing loss appear more likely to develop dementia, and their risk increases as hearing loss becomes more severe, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of Neurology.

Recommended for you

Alcohol apps aimed at young

3 hours ago

Apps with names like 'Let's get Wasted!' and 'Drink Thin' have led a James Cook University Professor to call for Government action on alcohol advertising on mobile devices.

Proponent of the G spot takes on a critic

3 hours ago

Ashley Furin had a "very satisfying" sex life with her husband, she said. Then, seven years into their relationship, she had "an experience that rocked me to my core." They had found her G spot.

Child-safety expert offers tips for holiday gifts

4 hours ago

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but it can quickly turn tragic if we're not careful, according to Bridget Boyd, MD, pediatric safety expert at Loyola University Health System.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.