Monday, December 27, 2010

Hearing More Disturbing Data about Hearing Loss—This Time in Teen Girls

A number of articles in our journal and elsewhere have recently been published on the possible hearing problems that can occur from teenagers not controlling the volume on their portable media players. Many of these studies have originated outside of the United States, but this week, Henderson et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-0926) share the results of their investigation in trends in noise-induced hearing threshold shifts and in turn in hearing loss among our adolescents. More than 4,000 teenagers completed audiometric testing and completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in one of two discrete time periods—1988-1994 and 2005-2006. As you might expect, exposure to loud music heard through head phones seems to be taking its toll—and in this study, the implications are even more concerning for teen females than for males—but overall both genders are at risk for hearing damage in this era where everyone seems to own a portable media player. Unfortunately, only a few of those surveyed seem to be aware that the high volumes being listened to may result in hearing impairment as these teens age. There is some great anticipatory guidance worth giving to our teen patients -- if they will take off their earphones long enough for us to share the take-home message from this study with them.