Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Hearing Damage Among Adults Using Headphones via Mobile Applications

Cureus. 2022 May 31;14(5):e25532. doi: 10.7759/cureus.25532. eCollection 2022 May.


Background Exposure to recreational noise is an emerging public health problem leading to hearing loss. Young people often spend their leisure and relaxation time listening to unsafe levels of music on their personal audio systems. This study aimed to study hearing impairment among young adults due to exposure to various audio gadgets. Methodology This cross-sectional study was conducted among 241 patients and healthcare workers aged 20-40 years. The data collection instrument was a questionnaire including the history and patterns of usage of headphones. A mobile application-based hearing test, a validated Smartphone hearing screening technology, by the World Health Organization (hearWHO) was used to check hearing. Results Of the 241 adult participants (aged 20 to 40 years), 188 (78%) were males and 53 (22%) were females. The mean hearWHO score was 46.02 ± 9.854, ranging from 21 to 85. The mean hearWHO score for headphone usage with a music system of 50.45 ± 12.32 (p = 0.023) and television of 44.13 ± 8.595 (p = 0.015) was statistically significant. The mean hearWHO score for daily headphone users was 45.93 ± 9.67, for users using daily for more than two hours was 46.59 ± 10.34, for those using headphones for leisure was 47.51 ± 7.74, and for usage music/gaming was 48.71 ± 12.57. Subclinical hearing loss was seen in 201 (83.4%) headphone users. A higher proportion of subclinical hearing loss (74.1%) was noted among participants who used headphones for multiple reasons such as leisure, education, service, music, and gaming. Conclusions In this study, a high proportion of headphone users were found to have subclinical hearing loss. This study generated imperative facts for people and emphasize that they look after their hearing. This study introduces the applicability of new technology in an Indian setting where hearing healthcare is facing challenges.

Keywords: application; audio; headphone; hearing loss; hearwho; preventable; subclinical.