Drumming up Interest in Hearing Loss
Teens Need More Education About Hearing Health, Study Finds
April 4, 2005 - Many teenagers and young adults like their music loud.
Really loud. But pumping up the volume now could cause them to tune out sounds
down the road.
A study in the journal Pediatrics has found that a majority of young adults
suffer hearing problems after just a few hours of exposure to loud music at
concerts, clubs, and personal audio systems.
Efforts to reduce the problem have
been primarily aimed at adults' exposure to occupational noise. More and more
studies show While short periods
of exposure to very loud music can't cause permanent hearing loss, repeated
For the study, researchers in Massachusetts developed a 28-question survey
on issues facing adolescents and young adults. Sixteen questions were related
to hearing. The web-based questionnaire was randomly administered to people who
visited the MTV web site. The study involved 3,310 men and 6,148 women with an
average age of 19.
Evaluation of the surveys revealed that teens did not consider hearing loss
a big problem compared with other health issues such as sexually transmitted
diseases, drug abuse, or depression. Hearing loss was "a very big
problem" for only 8% of the respondents. However, more than half of them
after a rock concert.
"Unlike such issues as alcohol and drug use, which may have immediate
life-threatening consequences, hearing loss does not pose a concern for youths
as the detrimental effects may not manifest for years," the study authors
Those more likely to consider hearing loss "a very big problem" or
"somewhat a big problem" had prior education on hearing loss.
Fortunately, many of the teens surveyed said they could be motivated to wear
ear plugs if they were made more aware of the risk of permanent hearing loss or
were advised by a medical professional. Only a handful (14%) of those surveyed
used ear protection in the past while listening to loud music. Yet two out of
five teens had reported that suggestions to wear earplugs were made in the
The researchers emphasize that prompting teenagers to protect their hearing
requires a substantial public effort at many levels of society, particularly in
schools and doctors' offices.