The existing literature highlights concerns regarding the possibility of leisure activities involving listening to music on portable music players causing hearing loss. However, there is much speculation regarding actual effect. This article outlines a project involving young persons aged between 11 and 35 years of age and by using a detailed hearing health history and comprehensive audiometric evaluation, the information was used to create an estimate of individuals’ cumulative lifetime noise exposure. The measures appear to accurately estimate the true situation in terms of levels of noise exposure. A set of hearing threshold reference levels were produced from previous surveys of normative hearing thresholds for people aged 12 to 35 years in two, five and 10 year steps at fractiles and the results of those in this study group were compared against them. The results are contrary to those expected: no measurable change in threshold levels with respect to age in this group. In fact, the hearing thresholds appear to remain within normal ranges. In addition, there was no statistically significant relationship between cumulative noise exposure and hearing thresholds. Perhaps, therefore, this is an issue that is not as widespread as has been previously feared.

Leisure noise and the hearing health of young people.
Williams W.
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Linnea Cheung

Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, UK.

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