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Hearing examination of adults (20 to 69 years old) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2004.

Hoffman HJ; Themann CL
Spectrum 2005 Feb; 22(Suppl 1):24
Hearing loss severe enough to interfere with the understanding of normal speech is experienced by several million people in the U.S. Previous estimates, derived mainly from health interview surveys, suggest that at least 10 percent (20 million) of adults have sufficient trouble hearing to impact their quality of life. Hearing loss may be caused by several environmental factors (principally noise exposure) and, as well, many genetic factors may cause or contribute to hearing loss in combination with environmental factors. The NCHS has conducted a unique series of health and nutrition examination surveys since the early 1960s. The health exams are conducted in mobile centers (four trailers linked together) that are transported to randomly selected communities to ensure a standardized environment for obtaining high-quality data. From 1999 to 2004, NHANES included pure-tone, air-conduction hearing threshold measurements in each ear at .5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz from a nationally representative sample of civilian, non-institutionalized adults, 20 to 69 years old. These data provide the first national estimates of adult hearing loss based on thresholds in nearly 30 years. The methodology for the NHANES hearing examination will be explained and preliminary findings presented. The importance of these data for tracking Healthy People 2010 objectives will be discussed. Implications for directing efforts in hearing loss prevention and monitoring progress in prevention will also be addressed.
Hearing-loss; Hearing-impairment; Age-factors; Age-groups; Environmental-factors; Noise-exposure; Genetic-factors; Health-surveys; Hearing-threshold; Sampling; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Hearing-protection
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Hearing Loss
Source Name
Spectrum: the National Hearing Conservation Association newsletter
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division