A better hearing message for men
Chances are, you probably equate hearing loss with factors such as older age and exposure to loud noise. It might surprise you to learn there is also a correlation between gender and hearing loss. Overall, men are nearly twice as likely to develop hearing loss as women, especially between the ages of 20-69.
Why are men more susceptible to hearing loss? Environmental factors are the primary reason. Traditionally, men have worked in occupations and participated in activities that expose them to dangerously high decibel levels, making them prone to noise-induced hearing loss. A few examples include jobs in the manufacturing and construction industries, military service, playing and watching sports, etc. Studies lend credence to this theory: in societies where hazardous noise exposure is not a factor, men and women lose their hearing at about the same rate.
Another factor may be the consumption of over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin. Men, who have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, are more likely to take low-dose aspirin as a preventive measure; studies show individuals under the age of 59 who take aspirin regularly have a 33% greater chance of developing hearing loss than those who do not take aspirin daily.
Biology may also play a role. Men tend to have poorer high-frequency hearing, especially above 2,000 Hz, while women lose hearing in the lower frequencies. This is surmised due to the absence of ovarian steroid hormones, which appear to boost hearing sensitivity in women prior to menopause.
In order to lower the hearing loss disparity between genders, prevention is key. OSHA mandates the use of hearing protection for employees exposed to dangerous noise thresholds, defined as those exceeding 85 decibels. While not mandatory elsewhere, common sense should be used in situations where noise exposure is an issue (attending rock concerts, operating power tools, shooting guns, etc.). Interestingly, as men and women age, the gap narrows due to a “gender reversal” in which women experience more rapid rates of low-frequency hearing loss than men, effectively erasing their hearing advantage after about the age of 60.
Sometimes nature’s sense of humor is not funny. Female voices are higher and men lose their high-frequency hearing, making it more difficult for males to hear their wives. Men have lower voices and women lose their low-frequency hearing, making it more difficult for females to hear their husbands.
So, the moral of the story is, not all misunderstandings between couples are due to selective hearing. One partner will blame the other for not listening, but it can actually be hearing loss causing communication problems. A hearing evaluation can help determine if there is hearing loss, or whether it really is simply a case of selective hearing. Let’s just say I have settled a lot of bets over the years between couples and family members!
The risk of hearing loss is very real for men and correcting your hearing can improve not only your communication and relationships but also your overall health and quality of life. If you’re concerned you or someone you care about may have a hearing loss, call Precision Hearing at 352-765-8008 today to schedule an evaluation.