Apr 9, 2024 - News

Chart du jour: Hearing loss, mapped

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

About 9% of King County residents — around 200,000 people — experience at least mild hearing loss, according to a recent study seeking to estimate prevalence at the county level.

Why it matters: With an aging U.S. population, the findings have important long-term implications for public health officials and policymakers.

By the numbers: The federally funded and peer-reviewed study from nonpartisan research group NORC at the University of Chicago found that more than 1 in 9 Americans experience at least mild hearing loss in both ears.

  • In Washington, the counties with the highest percentage of hearing loss include Wahkiakum (30%), Jefferson, Columbia and Pacific (all 25%), Clallam (23%) and San Juan (21%).

In general, hearing loss is more common in rural areas, per the study. It's unclear exactly why, but exposure to factory or farming equipment could contribute, as could lower access to health care.

Worthy of your time: You can go deeper into the study's results at Sound Check, a website built around its findings.

The bottom line: While these geographic and socioeconomic breakdowns are vital for policymakers and others, "hearing loss is a problem everywhere," the study's lead author, David Rein, tells Axios.


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