About 20% of U.S. teenagers had some degree of hearing loss in 2005-’06, up from 15% in 1988-1994, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
As part of the survey, trained technicians conducted audiometry on participants in a sound-isolating room. Low-frequency hearing loss was defined as low-frequency pure tone average (PTA) greater than 15 decibels (dB) in either ear, and high-frequency hearing loss was defined as high-frequency PTA greater than 15 dB in either ear. Hearing loss also was categorized as slight (15-25 dB) and mild/worse (25 or more dB).
In the 1988-’94 survey, 2,928 youths ages 12-19 were tested; 1,771 were evaluated in 2005-’06. Results showed the prevalence of slight hearing loss increased from 11.4% to 14.2% between the two time periods, and mild/ worse hearing loss rose from 3.5% to 5.3%.