Johns Hopkins scientists found that the portion of the American population affected by hearing loss could double by 2060. In the U.S., around 65 percent of the 70-year-olds or older have the condition. The findings were reported Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. The research was partially funded by the Eleanor Schwartz Charitable Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
For the research, the team sifted through hearing test data from the National Center for Health Statistics to analyze the health of Americans. Next, they used computer models to spot trends and estimate how many Americans will struggle with the issue in the coming decades.
The models revealed that the number of young adults with some hearing loss troubles could rise from 44 million by the end of the decade to 73 million people in 2060. Young adults with hearing loss currently account for 15% of the population. By 2060, they will make up 22% of the population.
Study authors underlined that the trend will require more trained hearing professionals and cost-effective health care.
It is unclear what causes hearing loss rates to climb so rapidly but turning up the volume on music players and the use of earbuds and headphones are mostly to blame. The noise pollution in big cities also contributes to the problem. Working nearby technologies that produce loud sounds such as construction tools, trains, and car horns could decrease hearing sharpness.
According to a separate study, hearing loss ranks fifth on the list of disabilities worldwide. In the U.S., it is the third most common health issue, with around 48 million Americans being affected by it.
On the other hand, hearing loss is often associated with aging. After the age of 75 one in two people is affected by the condition. It is unclear why people lose their ability to hear as they age. It is either genetics or environmental factors or both.
Some drugs can cause the problem. Over 200 drugs have hearing loss as side effect. These drugs include certain antibiotics, diuretics, anti-malaria drugs, erectile dysfunction medication, some chemotherapy drugs, and aspirin.
Some diseases are associated with hearing loss such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions as they affect the blood supply to the ears.
Image Source: Flickr