Loud music no threat to ears, teens tell study

Most teenagers and young adults don’t think hearing loss from listening to loud music is a big problem, even though three out of five have had ringing in their ears after concerts, according to a study released on Monday.

But when told loud music could result in lifelong hearing loss, two-thirds in the study said they might consider earplugs or other protective measures in the future.

The findings came from a 28-question survey posted on cable television’s MTV Web site for three days in March 2002 answered by 6,148 females and 3,310 males, with an average age of 19.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, part of Harvard Medical School, said only 8 percent of those questioned thought hearing loss was a big problem. By comparison, half thought sexually transmitted diseases were a big issue and nearly that many thought the same about alcohol and drug use, Smoking and depression.

Sixty-one percent of those questioned had ringing in their ears or other signs of hearing impairment after attending concerts and 43 percent reported the same from socializing at clubs, but only 14 percent had ever used earplugs.

But 66 percent said they could be motivated to try ear protection if they were aware of the potential for permanent hearing loss, said the report published in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“The good news is that many young people indicated that they would consider wearing hearing protection, for an entirely preventable and lifelong hearing loss condition, if they were counseled by a medical professional,” said Roland Eavey, a physician who was one of the study’s authors.

The report said several studies across the world have reported an increasing trend toward noise-induced hearing loss, particularly among younger people. While short periods of exposure to amplified sound may not cause permanent problems, it said, the damage from chronic exposure can be cumulative, so that a slight hearing loss in childhood can become a substantial one in adulthood.

The authors said they did not do an error margin calculation for this type of opinion sample.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD