Millions suffer from hearing damage even when hearing perceived as excellent.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey that found about one in four U.S. adults who say their hearing is good or excellent actually have hearing damage. Now the latest CDC Vital Signs report shows that much of this damage is from loud sounds encountered during everyday activities at home and in the community.
CDC researchers analyzed more than 3,500 hearing tests conducted on adult participants in the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that 20 percent of people who reported no job-related noise exposure had hearing damage in a pattern usually caused by noise. This damage – shown by a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds – appeared as early as age 20. This research was conducted by CDC with support from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health.
Too much noise exposure at home or in the community – from things like using a leaf blower or going to loud concerts – can damage a person’s hearing just as much as working in a very noisy place.
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“40 million Americans show some hearing damage from loud noise, with nearly 21 million reporting no exposure to loud noise at work,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat. “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.”
The report found:
- About 53 percent of adults with noise-induced hearing damage reported no job exposure to loud sounds. This damage—shown by a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds—appeared as early as age 20.
- Almost one in four adults ages 20 to 69 who reported good to excellent hearing already have some hearing loss.
- Almost 1 in 5 adults who reported no job exposure to noise showed hearing damage indicative of noise exposure.
- The presence of hearing loss increased with age, from about 1 in 5 (19%) among young adults ages 20-29 to more than 1 in 4 (27%) among adults ages 50-59.
- Hearing loss is more common among men and people over the age of 40 years.