12 October 2021

Many seniors have a high-frequency hearing loss

Half of all seniors in their sixties have a high-frequency hearing loss. And among those 70 years or older, three out of four have a high-frequency hearing loss, a study finds.
Many seniors have a high-frequency hearing loss

A Korean study confirms that the prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss to a large extend increases with age. A high-frequency hearing loss in seniors is also often called an age-related hearing loss.

Among the 16,799 participants in the study, the prevalence of unilateral hearing loss was 8.2% and bilateral hearing loss was 5.3%. Mild hearing loss (26–40 dB) was present in 51.7% of the participants with unilateral hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss (41–70 dB) was present in 86.8% of the participants, whereas severe hearing loss (> 70 dB) was present in 13.2% of the participants with bilateral hearing loss.

In the study, men were more likely to have hearing loss than women.

Many older people with high frequency hearing loss

The prevalence of hearing loss increased with age at all frequencies for both men and women.

Among participants aged 60 – 69, 42.7% had a hearing loss at 3000 Hz, 54.3% at 4000 Hz and 79.5% at 6000 Hz. Among the participants 70 years or older, the figures were 70.7% at 3000 Hz, 78.4% at 4000 Hz and 93.2% at 6000 Hz.

For the participants aged 39 or younger in the study, the prevalence of a high frequency hearing loss was very low.

Other conditions related to hearing loss

In the study, besides age, hearing loss was also significantly associated diabetes mellitus, hypertension, abdominal obesity, level of education, income, living area, tinnitus and dizziness.

About the study

In the study, hearing tests were carried out using pure tone audiometry at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 3000 Hz, 4000 Hz and 6000 Hz. Hearing loss was defined as average pure tone thresholds of greater than 25 dB in the better-hearing ear at 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz.

The study used the data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) from 2009 to 2012 and analysed the association between age and hearing loss.

The study, "Age-related hearing loss in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey", was published in the journal Plos One.

Sources: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the journal Plos One

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