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Men and Hearing Loss
“You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Depending upon your age, these words may recall
the lyrics of a 1970s folk song by Joni Mitchell. But you might want to listen up and consider
these words another kind of warning—especially if you’re a man.
More people with hearing loss. Today, twice as many people have hearing loss as in the
1980s. And sadly the trend isn’t improving. A recent report predicted that the number of U.S.
adults with hearing loss will rise to nearly a quarter of the population in the next 40 years.1
Perhaps we’ve adapted just a bit too well to all the noise in our environment—from rock shows
and subways to motorcycles and kids’ toys.
The story is even more sobering for men. That’s because hearing loss may be more common and
severe in men than in women. One likely reason is that more men than women are exposed to
sustained loud noises.2
Links to other health issues. Increasingly, researchers are seeing links between hearing loss
and other health issues—problems that often affect men. These include sleep apnea, diabetes,
cardiovascular disease, depression, and dementia.3 Consider this:
- Sleep apnea is strongly linked to hearing loss at both high and low frequencies.
- The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it could be the “canary in the coal mine”
for cardiovascular disease. In other words, blood vessel blockages might show up here
- Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes.
- Research also shows a link between hearing loss and dementia.
- In people with both depression and hearing loss, use of hearing aids reduces symptoms of
Protect your hearing. You may have already experienced some hearing loss. But that doesn’t
mean you can’t protect what’s left. Start here:
- Get earplugs for loud events—and wear them! Even the simple foam plugs you can buy
in our store can help protect your ears.
- Let’s talk painkillers. A study in men found that taking painkillers like aspirin,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), or acetaminophen only two times a week
significantly increased the risk of hearing loss. These drugs may do this by reducing
blood flow to the inner ear. If you’re concerned, let’s discuss this.4
- Consider an iron test. By contrast, iron helps carry blood to the inner ear. That may be
why low levels have been linked to hearing problems.1
- Check the volume. It’s really tempting to turn up the volume, especially for your
favorite tunes. Resist!
Of course, your doctor should first rule out a medical problem that could be causing any
hearing loss. Then, let me know if you would like any guidance about specialists who can help
evaluate your hearing or help you choose a hearing device. Just remember: these are not your
father’s hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are nearly invisible, can adjust to different
environments, and benefit from many high-tech features.3
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional
advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you
have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
1. Men’s Journal: “You’re Losing Hearing Faster Than You Think.” Available at: http://www.
w475579 Accessed 4-27-17.
2. Medscape: “Age-related hearing loss in men.” Available at: http://www.medscape.
com/viewarticle/520157 Accessed 4-27-17.
3. Better Hearing Institute: “Calling All Men: Protect Your Well-Being with a Hearing Check.”
Available at: http://www.betterhearing.org/news/calling-all-men-protect-your-well-being-
hearing-check Accessed 4-27-17.
4. Curhan SG et al. Am J Med.2010;123(3):231–237. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.
nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831770/ Accessed 4-27-17.