You may have heard that men and women are predisposed to different medical conditions, but did you also know that men are at a greater risk for hearing loss? Find out more in this week’s Audicus blog!
Hearing Loss: The Differences Between Men and Women
According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, men are twice as likely to sustain hearing loss compared to women. This applies especially to men in the age range of 20 to 69. Part of this discrepancy between men and women may be due to occupational differences, where a higher percentage of men take jobs that expose them to excessive amounts of noise.
Construction workers and firefighters are more likely to experience hearing loss due to the noise level in their jobs, and on average there is a higher percentage of men in these fields.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSID) as well as acetaminophen and aspirin may also be to blame, as these have been found to cause higher rates of hearing loss in men younger than 60. In fact, men ages 50 to 59 were 33 percent more likely to experience hearing loss than men that didn’t normally use aspirin.
The ways in which men and women lose their hearing after age 80 are also different. Women initially experience low frequency hearing loss, whereas men normally experience high frequency hearing loss. This translates to men having a harder time hearing consonants and women having a harder time hearing vowels.
The differences in hearing loss between men and women may also be in part to differences in brain structure. On average men have more neural connections within each of the two hemispheres of the brain, whereas women have more connections between the two hemispheres.
Women’s brains also respond to certain sounds differently when compared to men. A study from the National Institute of Child Health found that women’s brains usually activate after hearing the sound of a baby’s cry while men’s brains remain in a resting state. However, both the brains of men and women activate when they hear autistic babies, who tend to have relatively high-pitched cries.
Although men may be at an increased risk for hearing loss, women may be predisposed to conditions that result from hearing loss. For example, if hearing loss is left untreated it may result in depression, with women being more likely to experience the condition.
Hearing Loss Worldwide
Despite men’s disposition to sustain hearing loss, this condition affects a wide range of people regardless of their sex, age, race or geographic location. In early 2015 the World Health Organization announced that 1 billion people are at risk of hearing loss. This is due in part to the increasing use of audio technology by people of all demographics.
A few steps that everyone can take to avoid hearing loss include using ear plugs during loud concerts, opting for noninvasive headphones that go over the ears rather than inside them, and taking quiet breaks in between noisy settings.