Hearing Loss in Hispanic Population Mirrors General Population Almost one in seven Hispanic/Latino adults in the United States has hearing loss, according to a recent NIH-funded study—the largest of its kind to date. The prevalence is similar to that of the general populations, with Hispanics of Puerto Rican descent having the highest rate of hearing loss and Mexican-Americans ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   August 01, 2015
Hearing Loss in Hispanic Population Mirrors General Population
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Hearing Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   August 01, 2015
Hearing Loss in Hispanic Population Mirrors General Population
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB4.20082015.12
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB4.20082015.12
Almost one in seven Hispanic/Latino adults in the United States has hearing loss, according to a recent NIH-funded study—the largest of its kind to date. The prevalence is similar to that of the general populations, with Hispanics of Puerto Rican descent having the highest rate of hearing loss and Mexican-Americans the lowest.
The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, identified several potential risk factors for hearing loss, including age, gender, education level, income, noise exposure and diabetes.
“This study paints a detailed picture of hearing loss among a large and diverse group of Hispanic/Latino participants, and could help inform the development of intervention strategies to meet the needs of this growing population in the United States,” said James F. Battey Jr., director of the NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), which partly supported the work.
Approximately 15 percent of Americans ages 18 and older report some hearing loss, according to studies that have looked at the general population. The current study examined data gathered as part of the larger, NIH-supported Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), which comprises 16,415 Hispanic/Latino individuals, ages 18–74, in Chicago, Miami, San Diego, and Bronx, New York. The HCHS/SOL, launched in 2006, was designed to understand cardiovascular disease prevalence and risk factors in the Hispanic/Latino population.
Researchers averaged participants’ hearing thresholds in each ear at four different pitches, and defined hearing loss as an average hearing threshold of louder than 25 decibels (about as loud as the sound of rustling leaves) in at least one ear.
Overall, 15.1 percent had hearing loss in one ear; about half of those, 8.2 percent, had hearing loss in both ears. Hearing loss prevalence was highest among people with a Puerto Rican background—more than 21 percent had hearing loss in one ear and more than 12 percent in both ears. Mexican-Americans had the lowest rate: about 11 percent in one ear and 6 percent in both ears.
Contrary to prior research conducted in the general population, researchers found that smoking, obesity, history of cardiovascular disease, and stroke were not significantly associated with an increased likelihood of hearing loss. Other factors, such as social, environmental, cultural or ethnic differences, could affect the relative contributions of these risk factors in different populations. The study authors note that additional research is needed to determine if social, environmental or genetic variables could account for these differences.
Other findings of the study mirror observations in the general population:
  • The likelihood of hearing loss increases with age.

  • Men are 66 percent more likely than women to have hearing loss.

  • People exposed to loud noises were roughly 30 percent more likely to have hearing loss.

  • More education and higher income are associated with lower rates of hearing loss.

  • People with diabetes and pre-diabetes have increased odds of hearing loss.

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August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8