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One in Six Adults Reports Hearing Problems

One in six U.S. adults ages 18 and older reports trouble hearing without a hearing aid, according to data from a national survey.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The findings look at self-reported hearing loss by age group, use of hearing aids or assistive technology, and the likelihood of going to a health professional for hearing difficulties.

According to the analysis:

  • Of the 16.8 percent of adults in the study who report trouble hearing, adults ages 70 and older are more likely to report trouble hearing (43.2 percent) compared with those ages 40–69 (19 percent) and those ages 18–39 (5.5 percent).
  • Across all age groups, men are more likely than women to report having trouble hearing, and are more likely than women to describe having “moderate trouble” hearing (24.8 percent compared to 20.8 percent).
  • For those ages 70 and older, 52.4 percent of men report trouble hearing without a hearing aid compared with 36.2 percent of women.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62.6 percent) of those reporting hearing loss describe it as mild, defined as “a little trouble hearing.”
  • Aging was cited by 45.3 percent of women and 24.5 percent of men as the cause of their hearing loss. Nearly 36 percent of men think that long-term noise exposure was the main cause of their hearing loss, compared with almost 11 percent of women.
  • Less than half (46 percent) of adults who report any trouble hearing in the last five years have seen a health professional about their difficulty. Older adults (ages 70 and older) are more likely than the 40–69 age group and 18–39 age group to do so (56.8, 41.6 and 38.1 percent, respectively).
  • Less than a quarter (21.5 percent) of adults who report any trouble hearing have ever used a hearing aid, with older adults (42 percent) using them more frequently than those ages 40–69 (13.5 percent) and those ages 18–39 (4.7 percent).
  • Fewer than one in 10 (9.1 percent) adults who report any trouble hearing have ever used assistive technology, but its use is more prevalent among those ages 18–39 (12.1 percent) and least likely among those ages 40–69 (7.7 percent).

The annual NHIS uses personal household interviews to gather information about a range of health topics. For this report, researchers analyzed additional data obtained through supplemental questions about hearing.

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This article is copyrighted by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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