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Study: Teen boys more likely to have hearing loss

Despite recent warnings of headphone use damaging teens’ ears, researchers say the rates of hearing loss among US teens is stable but more prevalent in specific segments.

While researchers say there was a spike in hearing loss among teens in 2007-8, in comparing rates from 2010 with those from 1988, the team at the University of California, San Francisco concluded that there was “no overall change in prevalence of hearing loss” over the decades.

They did find, however, rates of hearing loss higher in specific groups. 

Males, teens who have a history of three or more ear infections, or are from ethnic minority groups or low socioeconomic backgrounds have a higher rate of hearing loss, researchers say. 

“Further investigation into factors influencing these changes and continued monitoring of these groups are needed,” says Dr. Dylan Chan, the author of the study and assistant professor at the university.

The study, which was published in JAMA , examined data from thousands of Americans aged 12 to 19 over more than two decades. Age, gender and demographic information, and risk factors such as noise exposure, firearm use, hearing protection use, and ‘history of ear infections’ were taken into account.

Researchers did not find consistent associations between hearing loss and noise exposures. Researchers noted that “reported exposure to loud noise increased and use of hearing protection declined over the same period.” There were “no consistent associations between noise exposures and hearing loss,” and “no consistent associations between noise exposures and hearing loss.”

Hearing loss among children and teens can affect language acquisition and speech development. Undiagnosed hearing loss can affect academic achievement, work performance and social functioning. 

If you think you or a loved one has hearing loss, the first thing you should do is to see your doctor or audiologist. Search for hearing health providers near you.

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Angie Aspinall
Phonak hEARo, Angie is a freelance journalist, copywriter, website designer and social media consultant. (www.aspinallink.co.uk) She lives in Scotland with her husband Richard, and their Westie, Tilly. Angie was diagnosed with Otosclerosis in her right ear at the age of 30. In 2011, she suffered sudden profound hearing loss in her left ear. She now uses a Phonak CROS II with a Phonak Audéo V hearing aid. You can follow Angie's international discussion group #HearingLossHour on Twitter @hearinglosshour.

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