Improving Detection of Adolescent Hearing Loss | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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Dec 2011

Improving Detection of Adolescent Hearing Loss

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Sekhar, Widome, and Paul and Mss Longenecker and Beiler), Audiology (Dr Rhoades), and Public Health Sciences (Drs King and Paul), Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(12):1094-1100. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.188

Objectives To compare a protocol for pure-tone threshold testing, capable of detecting high-frequency hearing loss as indicated by notched audiometric configurations, with the current school rapid hearing screen and to determine typical adolescent noise exposures associated with notched audiometric configurations.

Design In conjunction with required school rapid hearing screening, a pure-tone threshold testing protocol was administered, specifically to test hearing at high frequencies. A single audiologist reviewed the results. Students completed a survey assessing their noise exposures.

Setting A public high school in Pennsylvania.

Participants Eleventh-grade students.

Main Outcome Measure Notched audiometric configurations on the pure-tone threshold test.

Results Among 296 participants, 78 (26.4%) failed pure-tone threshold testing compared with 15 (5.1%) failing rapid hearing screening. Among those failing the pure-tone threshold testing, 67 (85.9%) failed due to notched audiometric configurations. Self-reported headphone use with an MP3 player was significantly associated with notched audiometric configurations compared with use of earbuds or stereo connection/docking systems.

Conclusions Pure-tone threshold testing incorporating high frequencies detects adolescent hearing loss more often than rapid hearing screens. Most state hearing screens omit high-frequency testing, potentially missing high-frequency losses, such as noise-induced hearing loss. Because noise-induced hearing loss in particular is preventable and hazardous noise exposures have increased, a reliable school hearing screen to detect high-frequency hearing loss in adolescents is warranted.