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Hearing care in the UK
Risk factors for hearing loss

Updates

The table below provides an overview of the risk factors for hearing loss.

 

Risk

Evidence

Comments

Personal factors

 

 

 

Age

high

high

High age is strongly related to hearing loss

Male sex

moderate

high

Men lose more hearing than women

Hereditary conditions

moderate

high

Explains a great part of the individual variation in hearing loss

Socioeconomic factors

low

medium

Low social class, income and education related to reduced hearing

Ethnicity

low

medium

White Caucasians lose more hearing than Afro-Americans

Health factors

 

 

 

Ear disease

moderate

high

 

Cardiovascular disease

low risk

low

 

Hypertension

low

low

 

Diabetes

low

low

 

Smoking

low

low

 

Cholesterol

uncertain risk

low

 

Triglycerides

uncertain risk

low

 

Occupations

 

 

 

Industrial workers

moderate

medium

Depending on noise exposure level and use of protection

Shipyard workers

moderate

medium

 

Construction workers

moderate

medium

 

Offshore workers

low

low

 

Professional drivers

low

medium

 

Fire fighters

low

medium

 

Military workers

moderate

medium

 

Civil aviation workers

low

medium

 

Railway workers

low

medium

 

Farmers

moderate

medium

 

Musicians

low

medium

 

Kindergarten employees

low

low

Probably too low noise exposure

Noise exposure

 

 

 

Continuous noise

low/ high

high

Daily noise exposure levels of >90dB = high risk

Daily noise exposure levels of <85dB = lower risk

Impulse noise

high

high

 

Gunfire

moderate

high

 

Leisure-time noise

low

medium

Probably of minor importance at a group level

Hearing protection

reduced

medium

 

Other exposures

 

 

 

Vibration

low

low

Vibration may increase the NIHL

Chemicals

low

low

Styrene. CS2 toluene, lead, mercury and CO

Medication

low/high

high

Cisplatin, aminoglycosides

 

Updates

Originally published: 2015

Reviewed: September 2020

Next review date: September 2021

 

Reference and notes

Table adapted from - Lie et al (2015), p.16. Occupational noise exposure and hearing: a systematic review. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. DOI 10.1007/s00420-015-1083-5. The changes include reformatting and replacing symbols for level of risk and evidence with words.  The term severe risk has also been replaced with high risk for a UK audience. The systematic review is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The licence can be viewed here http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The original source can be found here.