A new report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that people with “a lot of trouble hearing” could be twice as likely to experience accidental injuries.

The report, published recently in JAMA Otolaryngology, notes that an increased rate of accidental injuries is associated with self-reported, poorer hearing adults, with leisure-related injuries being most notable among those respondents. Those with “good” or “a little trouble” hearing were at a higher risk of work-related injuries.

“Many adults believe that hearing loss, particularly due to aging, is ‘normal’ and therefore of little consequence other than, perhaps, social difficulties. We were motivated to create this study since hearing is a special sense that plays an important role in warning us of danger in our surroundings. We wanted to see if a poorer hearing ability was related to accidental injuries,” says Neil Bhattacharyya, MD, senior author of the paper and otolaryngologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in a media release.

The researchers used the National Health Interview Survey dataset as the data source for their study. The dataset included responses to various health-related questions from a nationally representative sample of individuals age 18 and older from across the United States. The respondents classified their hearing status as “excellent,” “good,” “a little trouble hearing,” “moderate trouble hearing,” “a lot of trouble hearing,” and “deaf.”

Using the dataset, the researchers looked for the occurrence of any accidental injuries within the last 3 months, which they classified as driving-related, work-related, or leisure/sport-related. They then calculated and analyzed the prevalence of accidental injuries based on the participants’ age, sex, marital status, education level, ethnicity, race, and hearing status. Finally, the odds of experiencing injuries were calculated based on the different degrees of hearing difficulty and adjusted for the demographic variables among the respondents, according to the release, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Accidental injuries were reported by 6.6 million of the respondents from the preceding 3 months, according to the researchers. One out of six of the respondents considered their hearing to be less than “excellent” or “good.” People who had a lot of trouble hearing were 1.9 times more likely (twice as likely) to suffer from some type of injury than those with excellent hearing.

The researchers conclude that an increased rate of accidental injury was strongly associated with self-reported poorer hearing quality in adults, with leisure-related injuries most consistently associated with a degree of self-perceived hearing difficulty.

“Our data suggests a strong relationship between poorer hearing and accidental injury, especially since the rate of injury increased steadily as the reported hearing worsened as well as the odds ratio for injury. We found that leisure-related injuries were particularly interesting since individuals may not consider that a high-risk occasion for injury and may be paying even less attention to their hearing difficulties,” Bhattacharya states.

“Ultimately, hearing loss may be more consequential than one might think,” he adds.

[Source(s): Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Science Daily]