07 June 2011

Students unaware of their hearing loss

The prevalence of hearing loss among students is greater than expected, and this can affect their ability to learn.

A study by University of Florida in Gainesville shows, that one in four of the 56 students tested showed signs of hearing loss. This is a surprising result, not least because the same students declared themselves as having normal hearing in the preceding telephone interview. In other words, the students were not aware of their hearing loss.

“We were very surprised, especially because we used extremely liberal criteria for normal hearing,” says study author Colleen Le Prell, PhD, associate professor in the Department of speech, language, and hearing sciences at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and continues: “You would expect normal hearing in that population”.

The ability to learn can be harmed
25% of the students had a hearing loss of 15dB or more. Even though it is not necessary to use hearing aids with such a hearing loss, it is enough to influence the ability to learn negatively. According to Le Prell, this means that universities should focus on acoustics and a reduction in background noise, and the students with hearing loss should be aware that they should sit at the front in class.

7% of the students had a hearing loss of 25dB or more, which is clinically defined as a mild hearing loss.

The students should be tested
Le Prell suggests that the students should be tested annually, or at least at the start and end of their studies, so that their hearing loss can be identified and they can receive the necessary guidance on how best to protect their ears.

MP3-players can be the cause
The regular use of MP3-players could potentially be the reason that so many students have a hearing loss. To definitively prove a connection does however require further study, says Le Prell.

Source: http://teens.webmd.com & http://health.usnews.com

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