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Research: hearing loss in US expected to double by 2060.

FORTY MILLION U.S. adults show signs of noise-induced hearing loss, a number that is expected to nearly double by 2060, new research finds.

A Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Vital Signs study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released Feb. 10, reported that exposure to loud noises contributes to permanent hearing damage in 1 in 5 young adults ages 20 to 29, and 1 in 4 adults ages 50 to 59.

Noise-related hearing damage is not limited to the workplace, but can also occur at home and in the community, the study said. Though about 40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, over half reported no exposure to loud noise at work. Thirty percent of those who did report noise exposure at work also reported hearing loss.

According to the National Institutes of Health, presbycusis, the gradual age-related loss of hearing, is expected for older adults. Long-term exposure to noise, however, can prematurely and permanently damage the hair cells in the ears that allow hearing to occur.

Though difficulty hearing is often associated with seniors, signs of noise-related hearing loss--specifically an inability to detect high-pitched sounds --can appear as early as age 20. The progression of hearing loss often goes unnoticed, as 1 in 4 adults who reported excellent hearing actually already showed significant signs of hearing loss.

The increased projections could put a strain on hearing-related health care resources in the future, according to a March 2 study published online in the Journal of American Medical Association Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. The estimated lifetime societal cost of hearing loss is around $300,000 per person. Despite significant actions to improve exposure to industrial noise, rates of hearing loss are expected to rise rapidly, the study said.

Young people are particularly at risk for noise-associated hearing loss, as they are frequently exposed to loud noise through concerts and portable music players, said the CDC study. Furthermore, noise-induced hearing loss disproportionally affects men, at 25 percent, versus 16 percent of women.

"This is a concern for all age groups," said CDC acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, in a Feb. 7 news release. "Asking patients about their hearing and providing tips for reducing exposure to loud noises can help our patients preserve their hearing longer."

Hearing loss that goes untreated may lead to stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation. The CDC study authors encouraged primary health care providers to ask patients about exposure to loud noise at routine health care visits.

To learn more, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr.

Caption: Photo by XiXinXing, courtesy iStockphoto Millions of Americans, including young adults ages 20 to 29, have hearing loss from noise exposure outside of work.

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Title Annotation:The NATION: Health news at the national and federal levels
Author:Rasmussen, Elizabeth
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:May 1, 2017
Words:445
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