Hearing loss in the elderly causes communication difficulties, decreased quality of life, isolation, loneliness and frustration. The aim of this study was to identify the modifiable variables that may affect the progression of hearing loss in the elderly. A case-control study was conducted using two data sets. Data were extracted from the health examination survey of Ajou University Hospital (2010-2014) and the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-2012) data sets. Audiometry data were evaluated according to variables such as age, sex and drug use for underlying diseases. Logistic regression analysis was performed on the entire study population, and middle-aged and elderly groups using odds ratios (ORs). Factors including older age, female gender and diabetes mellitus were significantly associated with hearing levels in all age groups (OR [95% confidence interval, 95% CI], 0.375 [0.388-0.415], 1.202 [1.195-1.208], and 1.427 [1.183-1.721], respectively). However, when the results from the middle-aged and elderly groups were compared, medication for hyperlipidaemia had a significantly positive effect on the preservation of hearing in the elderly group (OR [95% CI], 0.713 [0.567-0.897]), but not in the middle-aged group (OR [95% CI], 0.967 [0.791-1.183]). People, especially those in the elderly group, exposed to medication for hyperlipidaemia are likely to have better hearing than those not exposed to such drugs. Thus, drugs prescribed for hyperlipidaemia may maintain hearing in the elderly. However, to overcome potential confounding-by unmeasured variables-that is present in this study, further studies must be performed with more elaborate research design and methodology.
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