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Study Finds Republicans Are More Likely To Suffer Hearing Loss

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A detailed map of hearing loss in the US revealed that about 38 million Americans have some degree of hearing trouble, with the highest rates in areas with older populations.

The model, led by David Rein, used various data sets to identify patterns, including the association of hearing loss with age, job types, population density, and minority populations.

“If ever there was an epidemic in the hunting community, it’d be hearing loss,” Sam Lungren said. “When target practice is a way of life, it’s easy to become blasé about earmuffs. When that buck is about to get over the ridge, jamming in ear plugs is the last of our worries.”

The map also showed a link between higher rates of hearing loss and areas with more Republican support, possibly due to gun ownership and noise exposure.

Heavy gun use emerged as a significant risk factor for hearing loss, with firearm suicides serving as a proxy for gun ownership.

“The correlation between firearm suicide and hearing loss may be explained by the fact that firearm suicide is a proxy for rates of firearm ownership, and using firearms exposes gun owners to very high noise levels,” Tufts University public health specialist Michael Siegel said.

While there’s a strong correlation between firearm suicide and hearing loss, experts emphasize that multiple factors contribute to hearing loss, including noise exposure and limited access to care in rural areas.

“One thing I’ve learned looking at problems in public health over my career is it’s never one thing,” Rein said.

Efforts to prevent hearing loss, particularly related to gun use, are underway, highlighting the importance of using hearing protection in loud environments.

“It’s usually some combination of factors,” Rein said. “There’s a lot of information that we have about rural health related to less access to care, higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and general weathering from economic and other stresses across the life span. Probably, these things are interacting with noise exposures, resulting in higher rates of hearing loss.”

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