Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 9th 2013 Contents B28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, August 9, 2013
One in five high schoolers has permanent ringing
in the ears, and few take measures to protect their
ears from loud music, according to a new study.
Those numbers are surprisingly similar to results
of a study of college-aged adults, said lead author
Annick Gilles, a clinical audiologist at Antwerp Uni-
versity Hospital in Edegem, Belgium.
She and her coauthors had expected the numbers
to be higher for college-aged people, who "go out
a lot," she told Reuters Health.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, caused by loud
noise exposure is clearly linked to hearing damage,
she said. People with permanent ringing in the ears
may be able to hear the same volumes of sound as
before the damage, but often have trouble separating
speech sounds out of a mix of noises.
For the new study, almost 4,000 Flemish high
school students completed a questionnaire about
temporary and permanent ringing in the ears, also
answering questions about their attitudes toward
loud noises and hearing protection.
Three out of four kids experienced temporary tin-
nitus, and one in five heard ringing all the time. Only
five per cent of the kids said they used any kind of
hearing protection against loud noise, such as ear
plugs, according to results in the journal PLOS ONE.
"Tinnitus on its own can be very troublesome and
have dramatic effects on individuals," said hearing
researcher Dr Josef Shargorodsky, a fellow at Johns
Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
"Many of the teens in this study likely also have
associated hearing loss, which really exacerbates the
About 20 per cent of people with tinnitus find it
bothersome enough to seek medical help, said Brian
Fligor, a pediatric audiologist from Harvard Medical
School in Boston.
"Bothersome tinnitus interferes with sleep, con-
centration, communication, and ability to relax," said
Fligor, who was not involved with the study.
"In short, in a teenager it means they will fall way
behind academically, might miss a lot of school,
repeat grades, etc. This of course has huge implications
for future college and employment opportunities,"
he told Reuters Health in an email.
Using the widespread cases of tinnitus among kids
as a warning sign for future hearing loss could be
a good strategy, said Dr Roland Eavey, an ear, nose
and throat specialist at Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, Tennessee, who also didn't participate in
"Perhaps that might be like warning smokers to
heed the cough before lung cancer is found," Eavey
told Reuters Health.
"Hearing loss from noise used to be from external
sources such as loud industry and the military," he
said. "Nowadays the loud volume is from self-inflicted
sources such as personal listening devices."
Gilles said there is treatment for noise trauma that
results in hearing loss and tinnitus---including steroids
or hyperbaric oxygen chambers---but after a few days,
the damage cannot be reversed.
"It is always a very good idea to use hearing pro-
tection in noisy situations such as concerts, festivals
(and) parties," Gilles said. "In addition, the use of
personal listening devices should be
more carefully controlled."
Many young people listen to music
that is too loud for too long on head-
phones, she said.
"Parents should check that their kids
are listening to music at reasonable
volumes, and use hearing protection
in loud environments," Shargorodsky,
who wasn't part of the study team, told
Kids who say they hear ringing
should be tested for hearing loss, since
the two often go together, he added.
"There is no cure for tinnitus or hear-
ing loss, but physicians can guide the
families to help deal with the problems
depending on the severity," he said.
Many teens have
permanent ringing in ears
'Perhaps that might be like warning smokers
to heed the cough before lung cancer is found.
Hearing loss from noise used to be from
external sources such as loud industry and the
military,' he said.
---Eavey told Reuters Health.
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