School hearing tests do not detect noise exposure hearing loss

March 20, 2014, Pennsylvania State University

School hearing tests cannot effectively detect adolescent high-frequency hearing loss, which is typically caused by loud noise exposure, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health mandates school-administered hearing screens for children in kindergarten to third, seventh and 11th grades. The school screenings primarily focus on low-frequency hearing loss. This is logical for young children, who are more likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss due to fluid in the ear after a bad cold or an ear infection. Adolescents, however, are more susceptible to high-frequency hearing loss, usually brought on by exposure to loud noises, but the same tests are used on adolescents and young children.

Deepa Sekhar, assistant professor of pediatrics, compared the results of a special hearing screening designed to detect noise-related high-frequency hearing loss with the results of the standard Pennsylvania school hearing test. The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Medical Screening.

Both screenings test the ability to hear a tone at a specific loudness. The tone is played at different frequencies, or pitches. The screening for noise-related hearing loss tests the ability to hear higher pitches, up to twice the frequency of the Pennsylvania school screen.

Screening participants were 11th grade students at Hershey High School. Researchers administered both the statewide school screening and a high-frequency screening. Of the 282 participants, five failed the Pennsylvania school test and 85 failed the noise-related test. Of the group of 48 students returned for testing by an audiologist in a soundproof booth, nine were diagnosed with hearing loss.

"More participants failed the initial screening than we predicted," said Sekhar. "Even with the effort and care put in by school nurses across the state, the current Pennsylvania school screen just isn't designed to detect high-frequency hearing loss in adolescents."

One in five adolescents experiences hearing loss, and most of this is high-frequency hearing loss related to continued exposure to noise hazards. Early detection and avoidance of loud noises can prevent hearing loss from progressing. To efficiently detect adolescent hearing loss, schools across the U.S. may need to consider alternate tests that are better designed to detect noise-related high-frequency .

"The results of this study have the potential to reach schools across the nation, as many use screens similar to those used in Pennsylvania schools," said Sekhar. "We are currently working on a follow-up study at Lebanon High School in partnership with Penn State Nursing to further improve the high-frequency school hearing screen for use in the setting."

Explore further: Few parents believe their teens are at risk of hearing loss

Related Stories

Few parents believe their teens are at risk of hearing loss

November 22, 2013
(HealthDay)—Few parents of adolescents believe their children are at risk of hearing loss, according to a study published online Nov. 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Almost 12 percent of children between ages 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss

February 20, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Does your child or teen spend hours "plugged in" to an iPod? Tuning out may be doing more than irritating parents. It is estimated that almost 12 percent of all children between the ages of 6-19 have noise ...

Tinnitus study signals new advance in understanding link between exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss

February 14, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A research team investigating tinnitus, from the University of Leicester, has revealed new insights into the link between the exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss.

My hearing is fine, thank you, but could you please speak up?

July 11, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- More than half of factory workers who thought they had excellent or good hearing actually suffered hearing loss and didn't even recognize the problem, a new study shows.

Researchers gain insight into protective mechanisms for hearing loss

September 17, 2013
Researchers from the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School have created a new mouse model in which by expressing a gene in the inner ear hair cells—the sensory cells that ...

Obesity associated with hearing loss in adolescents

June 17, 2013
Obese adolescents are more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to have hearing loss, according to results of a new study. Findings showed that obese adolescents had increased hearing loss across all frequencies and ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.