A CDC analysis of national survey data suggests that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) may affect nearly one in four adults in the United States, according to a review published in the February 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The analysis considered data from the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a series of surveys that entail both physical examinations and health interviews of a nationally representative sample of Americans. For the 2011–2012 NHANES survey, audiograms were administered to approximately 3,500 adults between the ages of 20 and 69. CDC researchers analyzed the audiograms as well as data generated by hearing-related questions from the survey.
Extrapolating the data to the national population suggests that 39.4 million Americans, or 24 percent of the total U.S. population, have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. Those exposed to loud noise at work were twice as likely to have NIHL.
Among survey respondents between the ages of 20 and 29, 19 percent were found to have NIHL. The data also suggest that a quarter of individuals who self-report having excellent or good hearing actually have some degree of NIHL, according to the MMWR review.