Why Hearing Loss Affects Men and Women Differently
Hearing loss can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background. That being said, certain groups of people are more likely to develop hearing loss on average.
Men in particular are at a greater risk of developing hearing loss than women, a phenomenon that has intrigued audiologists for years. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University in 2008 found the risk of hearing loss for men is five times greater than it is for women. Age and race both play a factor in this data, as the gap between men and women usually begins around age thirty, with white men displaying the highest prevalence of hearing loss.
Occupational hearing loss in men
Contrary to what you may think, this disparity is not the result of a difference in biology. If you consider the types of jobs that are typically performed by men, many of them involve regular exposure to extreme noise from their equipment and environment.
While the law requires that workers be provided ear protection in conditions where unsafe volumes are present, a large number of men still neglect to take care of their hearing on the job. If you feel like your workplace is posing a threat to your hearing or are concerned that your hearing loss is not being accommodated, please consult our article on how to discuss your condition at work.
Behavioral risk factors
Since men and women are both born with the same level of hearing, audiologists have concluded that behavioral factors play a huge role in establishing the hearing loss gap. Smoking and certain health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease are known to cause hearing loss. These issues are more common in men, confirming the findings in many studies. In another study by the American Journal of Medicine, regular use of NSAIDs and other pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen can lead to early hearing loss in men under 60.
Addressing the stigma of hearing loss in men
Despite these risk factors, men are still more likely to avoid being fitted with a hearing aid than women. This could be the result of a stigma against hearing aid use or a fear that wearing a medical instrument will be seen as a sign of weakness. These fears couldn’t be further from the truth, as there is no more shame in correcting hearing loss with hearing aids than correcting a vision problem with eyeglasses. In addition, addressing hearing loss early is known to help prevent the early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease while also protecting from falls and feelings of depression or anxiety.
Many people don’t realize that there are different types of hearing loss. Some affect the ear’s ability to hear higher frequencies, while others muffle or silence lower ones. Male hearing loss typically robs the ear of high-frequency hearing first, while the opposite is true for women. The result? Men have a hard time understanding consonant sounds that contain higher pitches, and women struggle to understand the deep, rounder sounds of vowels. With these hidden factors at play, it’s no wonder so many couples have trouble communicating!
Get help today
Hearing loss in men doesn’t have to be an epidemic. Consulting a hearing care professional at the first sign of hearing loss is the most effective way to treat your condition and prevent it from worsening. If you are worried about your hearing or that of a loved one, please use our online locator to schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional in your area today.