Hearing loss declined modestly among Americans ages 20 to 69 over the past decade, continuing a long-term trend, according to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. The researchers, from the CDC and NIH,suggested that the beneficial trend may be due to reduction in exposure to occupational noise (fewer heavy manufacturing jobs, more use of hearing protectors), less smoking, and better management of hypertension and diabetes (both linked to hearing loss, as is smoking). Age is the strongest risk factor for hearing impairment, but this study lacked data on people ages 70 and older.
Thus, the continuing decline in hearing loss in people younger than 70 “may represent delayed onset of age-related hearing loss,” the researchers suggested. But even that would be good news.
Also see How Noise Harms Our Health.