Recent research from the Penn State College of Medicine showed that school-administered hearing tests do not detect noise-induced hearing loss.

Many states mandate hearing tests for children throughout their years in school. These screenings primarily focus on low-frequency hearing, the type that can be negatively affected by fluid in the ears as a result of ear infection, cold, or flu.  The same test is used throughout all grades. While younger children are more likely to experience low-frequency hearing loss for the aforementioned reason, adolescents are more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud or prolonged noise.

Penn State College of Medicine tested 282 11th grade students using both the standard Pennsylvania hearing test (that tests low-frequency hearing loss) and a noise-induced hearing loss test. Five students out of the 282 failed the standard test, but 85 failed the noise-induced hearing loss test. Out of the 85 who failed the noise test, 48 returned for further tests. Nine of those students were diagnosed with hearing loss.

In order to more accurately detect noise-induced hearing loss amongst adolescents, school-administered exams should consider adding a noise portion to the screening.

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