Teenage Use of Portable Listening Devices: A Hazard to Hearing?

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Audiology (Impact Factor: 1.58). 11/2011; 22(10):663-77. DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.22.10.5
Source: PubMed


Recently, a number of popular media articles have raised some concern that portable listening devices (PLDs) may be increasing the risk for music-induced hearing loss (MIHL). However, literature regarding adolescents' listening behavior and how their attitudes and beliefs relate to behavior is currently limited.
The purposes of this study were (1) to investigate the relationship between volume control settings and output levels of PLDs, (2) to examine how adolescents' listening behavior changes as a function of background noise and noise isolation, (3) to investigate the relationship between self-reported listening levels and laboratory-measured listening levels, and (4) to evaluate the validity of the Listening Habits Questionnaire as a research tool for evaluating how attitudes and beliefs relate to PLD use behavior.
A descriptive study. Experiment 1 evaluated the output levels of a set of PLDs, and Experiment 2 characterized the listening behavior and attitudes toward PLD use of a group of adolescents.
Twenty-nine adolescents aged 13-17 yr, with normal hearing, participated in Experiment 2.
Experiment 1 evaluated the output levels of a set of PLDs with stock and accessory earphones using an acoustic manikin. Experiment 2 included survey measures of listening behavior and attitudes as well as output levels measured using a probe microphone.
The output levels of PLDs are capable of reaching levels that could increase the risk for MIHL, and 14% of teenagers in this study reported behavior that puts them at increased risk for hearing loss. However, measured listening levels in the laboratory settings did not correlate well with self-reported typical listening levels. Further, the Listening Habits Questionnaire described in this study may provide a useful research tool for examining the relationship between attitudes and beliefs and listening behavior.

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Available from: Cory D. F. Portnuff,
    • "For PMP use individual data on SPL was available from the questionnaires . Based on pupils' data on the average volume setting on their PMPs in percentage of the maximum possible sound volume, corresponding SPLs were taken from the literature to describe the sound level of 'Listening to PMPs via headphones (charts, rock, pop)' and 'Listening to music (stationary stereos) via headphones' (Portnuff et al, 2011). Among the 1903 participants who reported listening to music using PMPs, 297 did not report the volume control setting and the overall median value was used. "
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate total leisure noise exposure among adolescents and to assess its association with hearing. Based on self-reported time spent on 19 leisure activities and associated mean sound pressure levels reported in the literature, total leisure noise exposure was evaluated and compared to noise at work limits (> 85 dB(A) = hazardous) in a cross-sectional survey. Tympanometry and pure-tone audiometry was performed in sound isolated rooms. The study sample consists of 2143 pupils attending grade nine in any school in a German city 2009-2011 (mean age: 15.4 years; range: 13-19 years). Audiometric data were available for 1837 (85.8%) pupils (53.9% girls). 41.9% of the 2143 adolescents who had provided self-reported data on leisure activities associated with noise exposure were estimated to be hazardously exposed to leisure time noise. The interaction of gender with total leisure time noise exposure was not significant. No association between leisure time noise exposure and audiometric notches could be detected. While hearing loss seems seldom in this age group, a high proportion of adolescents aged 15-16 years are exposed to noise levels during leisure time bearing long-term risks of hearing loss.
    International journal of audiology 04/2015; 54(10):1-9. DOI:10.3109/14992027.2015.1030510 · 1.84 Impact Factor
    • "Although preferred listening level was not explicitly measured, participants did report whether they used their device in noisy areas, quiet areas, or both. Most of the available data suggest that listening levels increase when devices are used in a noisy background (Hodgetts et al, 2007; Hodgetts et al, 2009; Epstein et al, 2010; McNeill et al, 2010; Muchnik et al, 2011; Portnuff et al, 2011), supporting the use of background noise levels as a rough metric for listening level. Participants also reported whether they could hear someone speaking to them while using the device. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Human hearing is sensitive to sounds from as low as 20 Hz to as high as 20,000 Hz in normal ears. However, clinical tests of human hearing rarely include extended high-frequency (EHF) threshold assessments, at frequencies extending beyond 8000 Hz. EHF thresholds have been suggested for use monitoring the earliest effects of noise on the inner ear, although the clinical usefulness of EHF threshold testing is not well established for this purpose. Purpose: The primary objective of this study was to determine if EHF thresholds in healthy, young adult college students vary as a function of recreational noise exposure. Research Design: A retrospective analysis of a laboratory database was conducted; all participants with both EHF threshold testing and noise history data were included. The potential for "preclinical" EHF deficits was assessed based on the measured thresholds, with the noise surveys used to estimate recreational noise exposure. Study Sample: EHF thresholds measured during participation in other ongoing studies were available from 87 participants (34 male and 53 female); all participants had hearing within normal clinical limits (≤25 HL) at conventional frequencies (0.25-8 kHz). Results: EHF thresholds closely matched standard reference thresholds [ANSI S3.6 (1996) Annex C]. There were statistically reliable threshold differences in participants who used music players, with 3-6 dB worse thresholds at the highest test frequencies (10-16 kHz) in participants who reported long-term use of music player devices (>5 yr), or higher listening levels during music player use. Conclusions: It should be possible to detect small changes in high-frequency hearing for patients or participants who undergo repeated testing at periodic intervals. However, the increased population-level variability in thresholds at the highest frequencies will make it difficult to identify the presence of small but potentially important deficits in otherwise normal-hearing individuals who do not have previously established baseline data.
    Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 09/2013; 24(8):725-739. DOI:10.3766/jaaa.24.8.9 · 1.58 Impact Factor
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    • "NIHL is the second most common form of acquired hearing loss following age-related hearing loss.2) Other than occupational and military noise exposure, exposure to high levels of music that could lead to NIHL has been of recent interest in literatures. Notably, the term music induced hearing loss (MIHL) was used in the literature.3-5) MIHL refers to NIHL by listening to loud output levels of music for long periods of time. "
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to high levels of music that could lead to music induced hearing loss (MIHL) has been of recent interest especially for young adults, considering their excessive use of personal listening devices such as MP3 player. More attention should be drawn to MIHL for noting that early noise exposure leads to earlier onset of presbycusis. In search of appropriate and safe listening habits for young adults, this investigation was aimed to evaluate output levels and frequencies generated by the Samsung galaxy note MP3 player depending on two earphone types; ear-bud and over-the-ear earphones and three music genres; rock, hip-hop, ballade. A sound level meter was used to measure output level and frequency spectrum between 12.5 and 16000 Hz at all 1/3-octave bands. The following results can be summarized. 1) The earphone styles did not produce significant difference in output levels, but the music genres did. However, the results of music genres varied. 2) Neither earphone styles nor music genres produced significant difference in frequency response spectrum, except music genres at the volume settings we usually listen to. Additionally, volume levels should be lower than 50% for usual listening situation. Through this investigation, it was noted that the frequency range was substantial between 50 and 1000 Hz regardless of the styles of earphones and music genres, implying that we should be cautious of this frequency range when we listen to music. Researchers should give more attention to the effects of the mixture of output level and frequency spectrum, considering that the auditory system has frequency specificity from the periphery to the central to provide refined methods for protecting our ears from MIHL.
    Korean Journal of Audiology 09/2013; 17(2):59-64. DOI:10.7874/kja.2013.17.2.59
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