June celebrates Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day, making it the perfect opportunity to discuss hearing health amongst men.
Hearing health issues and hearing loss affect men and women differently. Men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss among adults aged 20-69. For the male population 75 and older, hearing loss is the most prevalent chronic health condition, according to the National Academy on an Aging Society.
Inherent and Environmental Factors
Health experts have listed both inherent and environmental factors for the prevalence of hearing loss in men. Sleep apnea – a significant men’s health issue – was recently discovered to be linked to both high and low frequency hearing loss, according to the Better Hearing Institute. The findings led the study’s lead physician, Dr. Amit Chopra, to “encourage people with sleep apnea to be educated and tested for hearing loss.”
Noise induced hearing loss is thought to be one of the major reasons for the disparity between men and women. Noisy, male-dominated occupations such as construction and factory work are extremely damaging to one’s hearing. Noise induced hearing loss is also completely preventable using hearing protection. Additionally, the use of pain relievers, aspirin, NSAIDs or acetaminophen is another factor that can increase the risk of hearing loss for men, even more so for younger men.
Hearing loss and overall health.
Men of all ages need to pay attention to their hearing health. Researchers continue to find evidence of an association between hearing loss and a broad range of chronic diseases and health conditions.
- Hypertension – there is a significant association between high blood pressure and untreated hearing loss. Hypertension can be an accelerating factor of hearing loss in older adults.
- Smoking – Current smokers have a 70% higher risk of having hearing loss than nonsmokers.
- Obesity – Higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are associated with increased risk of hearing loss in women.
- Diabetes – hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without.
- Ototoxicity – there are more than 200 medications (prescription and over-the-counter) on the market today that are known to be ototoxic – which means “poisonous to the ears.”
- Osteoporosis – osteoporosis can lead to sensory/neural hearing loss, the most common type of permanent hearing loss.
In addition to these, if hearing loss is left untreated, it can lead to increased risks of falls, social isolation, depression, dementia, memory problems, and brain atrophy.
Make Your Hearing Health a Priority
There is significant value in paying attention to one’s hearing health. Men especially are encouraged to practice safe listening methods, get annual hearing tests, and monitor other health concerns that could result in hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a treatable medical disorder, for which there are various treatment options. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 90-95% of people with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Majority of hearing aid wearers confirm wearing hearing aids has positively impacted their quality of life.