Adolescent Tinnitus At Crisis Levels Experts Report
Excessive exposure to loud music, via headphones, mobile devices and live music venues, may be associated with an alarming level of adolescent tinnitus among adolescents, according to recent research in Scientific Reports.
“The levels of sound exposure that are quite commonplace in our environment, particularly among youth, appear to be sufficient to produce hidden cochlear injuries,”
Larry E. Roberts, PhD, of the department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University, said in a press release.
“It’s a growing problem, and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
Roberts and other researchers studied a cohort of 170 adolescents (61.1% boys) aged 11 to 17 years in Brazil. Study participants were administered a survey related to prior instances of tinnitus, exposure to risky listening habits and sensitivity to ordinary sounds. The researchers also gathered psychoacoustic measurements by testing study participants in a sound booth.
Study results showed that 54.7% of participants reported experiencing tinnitus, while 28.8% displayed measurements of persistent tinnitus in the sound booth. The investigators noted that the measurements of tinnitus recorded in the sound booth were consistent with adult chronic tinnitus.
They also found that risky listening habits were nearly universal within the study cohort. Among participants who experienced both tinnitus and loudness discomfort levels, 95.6% reported use of earbuds or earphones, 89.1% reported attending loud music venues, and 95.6% reported use of mobile phones for listening purposes.
“Exposure to high levels of recreational sound appears to be increasing among children and adolescents and is a likely factor contributing to an increasing incidence of hearing loss which has been reported in Western industrialized countries,” Roberts and colleagues wrote. “Longitudinal studies involving cohorts such as those examined here will be needed to evaluate risks to future hearing health posed by tinnitus and reduced sound level tolerance experienced in adolescence.”