An increasing prevalence of hearing impairment and associated risk factors over three decades of the Alameda County Study

Am J Public Health. 1997 Mar;87(3):440-2. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.3.440.


Objectives: This study assessed changes in the prevalence of hearing impairment in persons aged 50 years and older over the past 30 years and identified risk factors.

Methods: Age-adjusted hearing impairment prevalence rates at four time intervals were calculated from the Alameda County Study (n = 5108). Logistic regression models analyzed risk factors from 1974 for 1994 incident hearing impairment.

Results: The prevalence of hearing impairment nearly doubled between 1965 and 1994. The increase was significantly greater for men. The higher incidence was associated with potentially high-noise-exposure occupations for men and with symptoms and conditions associated with ototoxic drug use for both men and women. Exercise was protective.

Conclusions: Given the serious health and social consequences of hearing impairment, its increasing prevalence is cause for concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / chemically induced
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution