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1 in 5 American teens has a hearing loss

Amanda Farah Cox

Web editor

Ida Institute
157 posts

#6317

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A new study reveals that 19.5% of American teens have some degree of hearing loss. In most cases, it's a slight hearing loss, but the percentage of the population experiencing it is on the rise.

Though there is no hard evidence, mobile phones and MP3 players are the main suspects, particularly the length of time teens spend listening to them.

You can read more about the study at NBC.

Teenagers listening to their music too loud isn't a new problem, but the ramifications are increasing. What can we do to raise awareness? Will the statistic itself have an impact?

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Kartik Jain

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Jaipur
2 posts

#6490

Replied on:

A stunning number of teens have lost a little bit of their hearing — nearly one in five — and the problem has increased substantially in recent years, a new national study has found.Some experts are urging teenagers to turn down the volume on their digital music players, suggesting loud music through earbuds may be to blame — although hard evidence is lacking. They warn that slight hearing loss can cause problems in school and set the stage for hearing aids in later life. "Our hope is we can encourage people to be careful," said the study's senir author Dr. Gary Curhan of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The researchers analyzed data on 12- to 19-year-olds from a nationwide health survey. They compared hearing loss in nearly 3,000 kids tested from 1988-94 to nearly 1,800 kids tested over 2005-06.


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Robert Schlauch

Professor

Minneapolis
2 posts

#6320

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Dear Amanda,

Thank you for quoting that finding from our study.  Consistent with the idea that 15 dB HL is too low of a cut off between normal hearing and hearing loss, we evaluated younger children using Shargorodsky et al's criteria. Shargorodsky et al only evaluated teens. We found that 18% of 6-8 year  children have high-frequency hearing loss using their criterea.  Children with abnormal middle ears were removed from our sample.  These children have no risk for noise induced hearing loss.

Although we did not find audiometric evidence in teens of damage due to noise exposure, we still believe and want to emphasize that exposure to high-level sounds poses a risk for damage to hearing.  The damage could occur as a "hidden" hearing loss that affects supra-threshold sounds or might weaken structures that result in damage over time. 

Another consideration for the negative findings in our study is that pre- and post- audiograms and extensive case histories are not available in the NHANES data base which reduces the power of these retrospective studies. 

 

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Amanda Farah Cox

Web editor

Ida Institute
157 posts

#6319

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 Thank you for sharing your article, Robert. I found this quote particularly interesting:

"Another concern with Shargorodsky et al.'s analysis is the cut off for normal hearing. An examination of the audiograms from the selected group in our analysis of the NHANES teens judged to be otologically normal showed that their average thresholds were between 5 and 10 dB HL at each frequency rather than 0 dB HL, the expected value. Given these elevated average thresholds in the otologically normal group and the known variability of pure-tone audiometry, 15 dB HL is too low a cut-off to define the boundary between normal hearing and hearing loss."

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Robert Schlauch

Professor

Minneapolis
2 posts

#6318

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The article cited isn't a new one; it was published in 2010.  Edward Carney and I have published several papers related to this topic that present evidence that most of the 1 in 5 teens with hearing loss represent false positive responses. 

Here's a link to a paper that summarizes our findings.

dpstechnical.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/AcousticsToday_10-2013_HearingLossInTeenagers.pdf

 

Robert Schlauch

University of Minnesota

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