New York: Boys have been more likely than girls to show signs of a particular type of hearing loss, but girls are catching up - and the ubiquity of portable audio players may be to blame, new research suggests.
The investigators found that all three types of hearing loss were generally as common in the recent group of teens as they had been during the previous survey.But when they looked more closely at the data, they saw that one group - teen girls - had experienced an increase in the rate of NITSs, from 12 percent in the first survey to 17 percent in the second.Some form of NITS is permanent, and some is temporary, Henderson noted. "It`s impossible to tell."Henderson said she was not surprised they didn`t find higher rates of hearing loss now that more teens are listening to music through headphones. That`s because high-frequency hearing loss, for instance, comes only after years of exposure to loud sounds, so it would be unlikely in teenagers.Even NITSs could become more common as teenagers age, she added. "It`s possible that teenagers, as they become young adults, will have even more hearing loss."There are several things teens can do to protect their ears, Henderson recommended. For one, they should always wear earplugs at loud concerts, buy environmental noise-canceling headphones, and keep the volume down. "A general rule of thumb is you should be able to hear someone talking to you even if you have your earphones on."Dr. Peter Rabinowitz of Yale University in New Haven, who reviewed the findings for Reuters Health, agreed that the increase in hearing loss among girls is probably a result of exposures to loud sounds. "That pattern (of hearing loss) is pretty characteristic of noise-induced hearing loss," he said.But whether or not high volume from portable music players is to blame remains unclear, Rabinowitz added. More teens are listening to loud music, but most types of hearing loss didn`t increase, and boys were no more likely to have NITSs as they were in the previous survey."This study does not totally prove that loud music is causing hearing damage in kids," he said.But any diagnosis of hearing loss in teens is concerning, Rabinowitz noted. "We should be doing something to prevent it.”Bureau report
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