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Ear disease and hearing problems
The proportion of people with ear disease or hearing problems generally increased with age. It increased from more than one in 10 for people aged 25–34 years (12%) or 35–44 years (15%) to more than three in 10 (34%) for people aged 55 years and over.
One in 10 (10%) people reported having partial or complete deafness in one or both ears.
The proportion of children aged 0–14 years who were deaf in one or both ears (4%) was about the same as in 2012–13 (3%) . The proportion of children aged 0–14 years with long-term otitis media also did not change between 2012–13 and 2018–19 (both 3%) .
Measured levels of hearing
A voluntary hearing test was also offered at the time of interview for people aged seven years and over who did not have a cochlear implant. See Hearing data (appendix) for more information.
The hearing test indicated more than four in 10 (43%) people aged seven years and over had hearing loss in one or both ears at the time of interview. The proportion of people with measured hearing loss:
More than two in 10 (23%) people had measured hearing loss in both ears.
Measured hearing loss at the time of interview does not necessarily indicate long-term hearing loss. For example, hearing loss on the day of the test may have been due to a temporary cause (like a cold) or limitations with the hearing test (such as being undertaken with background noise present rather than in a soundproof room). However, the difference between reported and measured hearing loss suggests a person may require further medical review for undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss.
Overall, almost eight in 10 (79%) people who had measured hearing loss did not report having long-term hearing loss. The proportion of people with measured hearing loss was:
Hearing loss, by age
(a) Persons who reported hearing problems that have lasted, or are expected to last, for six months or more. (b) Persons with hearing loss in one or both ears based on results of voluntary, self-administered hearing test undertaken by respondents without a cochlear implant at the time of interview.
Source(s): 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
1. Creative Spirits, 2019, <http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/health/ear-health-and-hearing-loss>; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. Sourced from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.001).
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