Objective: Data from high-frequency hearing screening in adolescent students were analysed to investigate whether practices of listening to loud music are reflected in the hearing status of young people.
Design: Students were screened for their hearing at frequencies 2, 4, and 6 kHz and at a level of 20 dB HL. Failure of the screening was defined by missing at least one frequency in one ear. In addition to hearing screening, the students filled out a questionnaire asking for practices related to exposure to loud music.
Study sample: 1296 adolescents aged 14 to 15 years.
Results: The overall rate of failing the hearing screening was 14.9% (95% CI: 13.0%-16.8%). The rate was similar in adolescents with no, little, or moderate exposure to loud music (10% to 15%), but significantly increased (22% to 25%) in adolescents with high exposure.
Conclusions: The observed failing rate compares well to findings on the prevalence of hearing deficits in adolescents reported in other studies. In addition, our study suggests that the risk for hearing damage from loud music is not steadily increasing with increase of exposure, but exists only under conditions of extreme listening.