The rate of hearing loss in Latino adults ages 18-74 living in the United States is on par with that of the general U.S. population—around 15%—according to new research published May 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Otalaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. But mysteries lie in the details of this study of more than 16,000 Latino adults in the U.S., the first of its kind.
One of those mysteries is why the rate of hearing loss among Puerto Rican-American men over 45 is so much higher than any other subgroup in the study: 41.2%. By comparison, Mexican women had the lowest rate of hearing loss among adults over 45, at just under 18%. In general, Mexican-Americans age 18-74 had the lowest rate of hearing loss of any of the subgroups, at 11%, while in general, Puerto Rican-Americans in that age group suffered hearing loss at almost twice that rate.
So why the range? The study identified risk factors associated with hearing loss, including exposure to loud noises, income (the poorer, the harder of hearing) and diabetes. Could genetics play a role? The jobs available to people in these groups? Researchers are saying it’s time for some longitudinal studies to dig into these larger questions.
Photo by Alejandro Gómez, Creative Commons 2.0