28 August 2018

17% of Americans say they have problems hearing

Data from a large American health survey finds that 16.8% of all Americans report some kind of hearing problem. At the same time only half of all Americans have ever had their hearing tested.
17% of Americans say they have problems hearing

In a large analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in the US, 16.8% of the participants self-reported that their hearing was less than “excellent” or “good”. 10.5% said they had a little trouble hearing, 3.9% said they had moderate trouble and 2.4% said that they had a lot of trouble or were deaf.

In the scientific article about the analysis, the researchers write that this means that around 40 million Americans experience some problems with their hearing.

The analysis found that 21% experienced problems hearing with background noise at least about half of the time.

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Frustrated about hearing

39% of those who reported hearing problems stated frustration with their hearing “about half the time” to “always” and 5.5% indicated their hearing loss generated concerns for their safety.

Few visits to the doctor and few hearing tests

At the same time just 20.6% had seen a physician for a hearing related problem in the preceding five years. Almost half of the people in the analysis had never had their hearing tested (49.7%). 18.8% said that they have had a hearing test within the last five years.

Among those who indicated their hearing was “less-than-good”, 32.2% had never seen a clinician for hearing problems and 28% had never had their hearing tested.

Causes are ageing and noise

The participants in the survey said that their hearing loss was related to ageing or long-term noise exposure, meaning an age-related hearing loss or a noise-induced hearing loss.

The NHIS-program

The findings are from the NHIS which is a program designed and conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in the US. Since 1957, NHIS has collected data on a broad range of health topics through personal household interviews of a statistically representative sample of the US population.

The findings were presented in the article “Prevalence, Characteristics and Treatment Patterns of Hearing Difficulty in the United States which was published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery in November 2017.

Sources: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery

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