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Age Related Hearing Loss: Not Inevitable

A study, conducted at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, showed that Baby Boomers are still hearing well – healthy hearing – longer than their parents did. 

“Generally, people think that our world is getting noisier and nosier, but we found that the prevalence of hearing loss is decreasing,” reports lead researcher, Dr. Welhai Zhan. “These results suggest that hearing loss is not a normal part of aging and there are things that we can do to delay hearing loss.” 

According to this widely-read study, hearing loss was 31% lower in baby boomers across all age groups. An example, taken from the study, shows that individuals born between 1944 and 1949 – the Woodstock Generation - experience hearing loss in 36.4% of all individuals. 

Their fathers, born between 1930 and 1935 showed hearing loss in 58.1% of test subjects. So does this mean things are getting better? Well, yes. It also means that people today don’t take healthy hearing for granted the way people did back when FDR was working the country out of the Great Depression. Good news, certainly. 

The results showing increased hearing loss among the mothers and fathers of today’s Baby Boomers comes from long-term research called the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study, which began tracking hearing loss among volunteers starting back in 1993, delivering years of empirical evidence to support the figures of the U. of Wisconsin study. 

In 2005, University of Wisconsin researchers undertook another study called the Beaver Dam Offspring Study to compare both rates and extent of hearing loss among the children of the original study group formed in 1993. In other words, researchers turned their attention to the “the kids” of the original study – men and women in their 50s and 60s. 

"These two long-term population studies provide important evidence that age-related hearing loss is not inevitable," said Dr. Wen Chen, of the NIA Division of Neuroscience. "These encouraging findings should spark future research to help us better understand the factors that favor preservation of hearing function, and that will allow development of strategies to prevent hearing loss and the associated functional declines in older adults."

Pretty good, huh? Well, yes and no. You see, if more than 50 million people will experience hearing loss by 2030 we’re going to have a lot of folks experiencing hearing loss. So, while the news is good, it’s also relative. The fact is, we still have a problem with hearing loss in this country.

Today, over 34 million people experience some degree of hearing loss so, despite the good news revealed by the University of Wisconsin research team, we’re still facing a growing problem.

To learn more about this hearing loss study and what you can do to continue hearing well, visit: Good News for Baby Boomers: Hearing Loss May Not Be as Likely with Age

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