Washington: A new study has found that being male and having a noisy job could increase the risk of hearing impairment and cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged adults.
"The severity of this condition has been shown to be associated with a poorer quality of life, communication difficulties, impaired activities of daily living, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction,” write the authors from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.
Scott D. Nash and colleagues studied 3,285 participants ranging in age from 21 to 84 years, with an average age of 49. The researchers evaluated hearing impairment as a pure-tone average greater than 25 decibels hearing level in either ear, or also measured word recognition at different sound levels and with male and female voices.
Results showed prevalence of hearing impairment was 14.1 percent and the average word recognition in quiet was 89.6 percent, but 63.5 percent in competing message environment.
"Hearing impairment was more likely in men, in participants with lower education levels, and in those working in noisy occupations or with a history of ear surgery," the authors reported.
Other factors suggest there may be cardiovascular correlates associated with hearing impairment as based on the word recognition scores, including statin use, a higher hematocrit percentage (a marker of blood viscosity), and intima-media (artery walls) thickness.
"Hearing impairment is a common condition in middle-aged adults. Cardiovascular disease risk factors may be important correlates of age-related auditory dysfunction."
The authors conclude that if hearing impairment is detected early, it may be a preventable chronic disease.
The study is published online first in the Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.