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Hearing Loss Common Among Middle-Aged Adults: Study
Date:2/22/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 21 percent of Americans aged 48 to 59 struggle with some kind of hearing loss, and the number rises to 90 percent of adults 80 and older, a new study says.

Yet much of that hearing loss may be preventable, the researchers pointed out.

Factors that contribute to hearing loss include working in a noisy environment, having a parent who had hearing loss, and, possibly, heart disease. Hearing loss is associated with difficulty communicating, a poor quality of life, dementia and cognitive problems, the study authors noted.

"Hearing loss may not be an inevitable part of aging, and our findings, which are in line with other studies, point to the possibility that if we live healthier lifestyles, lifestyles that can reduce our chance of cardiovascular disease for example, we may be able to prevent or delay hearing loss," said lead researcher Scott D. Nash, who's with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

Hearing loss is a common problem, Nash said. "In our study, nearly one out of seven adults over the age of 21 had hearing loss. In participants 65 years and older, more than 40 percent had hearing loss. We also found hearing loss was associated with some cardiovascular measures," he added.

"One possible explanation for the connection between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss may be that disruptions or changes to blood flow that come with cardiovascular disease may lead to less oxygen in the inner ear or other parts of the auditory pathway," he speculated.

The new report is published in the Feb. 21 online edition of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

For the study, Nash and his colleagues collected data on 3,285 men and women who were part of the Beaver Dam Offspring Study, which looks at aging and its effects. The average age of th
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