Mar 12, 2024 - News

How hearing loss affects Harris County residents

Hearing loss prevalence
Data: Sound Check; Map: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

Nearly 8% of Harris County residents — more than 367,000 people — experience at least mild hearing loss, according to a recent study seeking to estimate the condition's prevalence.

Why it matters: The findings have important implications for public health officials, policymakers and more.

The big picture: More than 1 in 9 Americans experience at least mild hearing loss in both ears, and the condition is closely tied to age.

  • An estimated 8.9% of Americans ages 35-64 experience hearing loss, compared with 72.7% of those age 75 or older.
  • The findings come from a study from nonpartisan research group NORC at the University of Chicago and published in The Lancet Regional Health — Americas.

Yes, but: Other factors also play a role, including the kind of community in which someone lives.

  • Hearing loss is more prevalent in rural areas, per the study. It's unclear exactly why, but exposure to factory or farming equipment could be contributing.

Zoom in: At 7.9%, Harris County is one of the better areas in Texas for hearing loss. By contrast, 31.1% of residents in Sabine County, deep in the Piney Woods, are experiencing hearing loss.

  • Travis County is at 7.8%, Bexar County at 11.2% and Dallas County at 7.5%.

Between the lines: Race and gender are also factors.

  • An estimated 14.6% of white, non-Hispanic Americans suffer from hearing loss, compared with 6.2% of Black Americans.
  • And an estimated 13.1% of men experience hearing loss, compared with 10.1% of women.

Worthy of your time: Go deeper on the study's results at Sound Check.

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