New Study: Noise-Related Hearing Loss Not Limited to Work Exposure

A new study published by the CDC on February 7, 2017, reported that approximately one in four U.S. adults who say their hearing is good or excellent actually have hearing damage. 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.


“Forty 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 correlations among age, gender, and hearing loss. The presence of hearing loss increased with age, from approximately 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. 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. A few recent studies have shown an increase in the number of young people exposed to loud sounds through portable devices and at entertainment venues. More research is needed on exposure to noise in early life and its relationship to hearing loss as people age.


Trouble with hearing is the third most commonly reported chronic health condition in the U.S. About 40 million Americans ages 20 to 69 have hearing loss in one or both ears that may be due to noise exposure. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is associated with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress. In addition to hearing loss, chronic noise exposure has been associated with worsening of heart disease, increased blood pressure, and other adverse health effects.


See the CDC Announcement


See the CDC Report


See also Medical Law Perspectives, November 2016 Report: Hear No Evil? Liability for Hearing Disorder or Hearing Loss Injuries