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CDC Study Says One in Four U.S. Adults have Hearing Damage

Feb. 9, 2017
In a recent study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found that many U.S. adults have damage from noise exposure despite reporting good hearing.

Even if a person doesn’t have job-related noise exposure, he/she still could experience hearing damage or loss at home or in the community.

A survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered one in four U.S. adults, as young as their early 20s, have hearing damage caused by loud noises encountered in everyday activities outside of the workplace.

“Forty million Americans show some hearing damage from loud noise, with nearly 21 million reporting no exposure to loud noise at work," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC acting director. “This can be distressing for people affected and their loved ones. We hope this report will help raise awareness of this problem and help clinicians reduce their patients’ risk for early hearing loss.”

CDC researchers provided hearing tests to more than 3,500 adult participants ranging from their early 20s to late 60s. About 20 percent of the participants who reported good or excellent hearing had a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, according to the report.

The report found that 53 percent of adults with noise-induced hearing damage had no job exposure to loud sounds. The incidence of hearing loss also increased with age, about 20 percent in the 20-29 age group and 27 percent in ages 50-59.

“Older people are more likely to have hearing loss, but this study finds some young adults are already losing some hearing, so this is a concern for all age groups,” Dr. Schuchat said. “Asking patients about their hearing, and providing tips for reducing exposure to loud noises, can help our patients preserve their hearing longer."

Portable devices and entertainment venues such as concerts are the biggest cause of hearing loss to those in younger age categories.

The agency recommends the following tips to protect yourself from hearing loss:

  • Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  • Use earplugs, protective ear muffs or noise-canceling headphones when they are around loud noises.
  • Keep the volume down when watching television, listening to music and using earbuds or headphones.
  • Ask a doctor for a hearing checkup.

The cost for the first year of hearing loss treatment in adults ages 65 and older is projected to reach an estimated $51 billion by 2030, according to the CDC.

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