An epidemiological analysis of the risk factors associated with adult hearing loss

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Ohio State University. Department of Speech and Hearing Science

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Hearing loss is a widespread, and often untreated problem amongst adults in the United States (US). In fact, it is estimated that 16% of adults in the US - approximately 30 million Americans - have some degree of hearing loss (Agrawal, Platz, and Niparko, 2008). Therefore, the primary purpose of this study is to examine the risk factors associated with adult hearing loss in the US. This document investigated risk factors and there interactions in an attempt to determine "why" and "in whom" adult hearing loss occurs. The risk factors examined in this study include: age, gender, race, education, cigarette smoking, and alcohol drinking. After examining the epidemiological/risk factor literature, several resounding themes/trends were observed, which included: that age (increasing), gender (male), and race/ethnicity (white participants) were all strongly associated with adult hearing loss, Non-Hispanic black participants demonstrated a protective association with adult hearing loss, and a protective association was observed with moderate consumption of alcohol. The clinical utility of the current risk factor assessment is the provision of tools to help design effective programs to decrease the impact of adult hearing loss and improve quality of life.