Regular adolescent hearing screenings only takes place in a few countries, despite the fact that more than one billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of damaging their hearing due to their unsafe listening practices according to the World Health Organization.
In adolescence, the risk of hearing damage including tinnitus increases as a result of increased exposure to loud noise e.g. through the use of personal listening devices. In the Netherlands, online speech-in-noise self-tests are used to raise awareness among young people and prevent music-induced hearing loss.
A Dutch cost-benefit study based on estimated effects of preventive interventions concludes that online hearing tests is an excellent way to keep costs down while still raising awareness.
Self-testing appears to enhance the awareness of the risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise and may possibly lead to a change in young people’s risk-taking behavior. The only thing needed to take an online test is a quiet measurement environment and a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access.
Incomplete screening programs
In Western countries, neonatal hearing screening with acoustic emissions and abbreviated auditory brainstem response techniques is well established. When the child reaches the age of 5 it has childhood hearing screenings performed by the school medical officer, but when the child gets older these tests lapse. Online speech-in-noise self-tests could take over where these tests left off.
If you want to test your hearing, hear-it.org has a free online hearing test.
The editorial was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.