People in lower socioeconomic positions are at higher risk of hearing loss, study finds.

Those in lower socioeconomic positions are up to twice as likely to have hearing loss that those in higher socioeconomic positions, a British study finds.

The study examined whether socioeconomic and modifiable lifestyle factors are associated with hearing loss among older adults in England.

Health inequality

The study found that variation in education, occupation, income and wealth, which are important determinants of health inequality, are associated with hearing loss.

In the study, socioeconomic position was strongly associated with the likelihood of hearing loss in older adults, with those with higher levels of education, income and wealth being less likely to be associated with hearing loss, while manual occupations increased the likelihood of hearing loss.

Lifestyle factors

The study also found that socioeconomic and several modifiable lifestyle factors (such as high BMI, physical inactivity, tobacco consumption and alcohol intake above the low-risk-level guidelines) were associated with the likelihood of hearing loss as strongly as demographic factors such as age and gender.

Prevalence of hearing loss

8,529 persons aged 50–89 participated in the study. Hearing loss was identified in 32.1% of men and 22.3% of women.

The study “Socioeconomic and lifestyle factors associated with hearing loss in older adults: a cross-sectional study of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)” was published in the journal BMJ Open.

Sources: and the journal BMJ Open.

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