Obese adolescents have a higher risk of hearing loss compared to normal weight adolescents, an American study finds. The results were published in an article on the hear-it.org website.
In the study, females had a higher prevalence of overall notches than males (18.2% vs 13.9%). The weighted prevalence of audiometric notches in obese adolescents was higher compared to normal weight adolescents (24.8% vs 14.7%).
The prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) was 14.3% among males and 8.1% among female adolescents and the difference was statistically significant. The weighted prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss in obese adolescents was significantly higher statistically compared to normal weight adolescents (17.9% vs 5.4%).
The prevalence of speech-frequency hearing loss (SFHL) was 7.3% in males and 5.4% in females. The weighted prevalence of speech-frequency hearing loss in obese adolescents was higher compared to normal weight adolescents (8.5% vs 5.4%), but the difference was not statistically significant.
Furthermore, the study found that the odds of having high-frequency hearing loss were higher in smokers compared to non-smokers.
Definitions in the study
In the study, the definition of a high-frequency audiometric notch was when:
- One or more of the thresholds (the softest sound a person can hear) at 3, 4, or 6 kHz exceeds the pure-tone average of the 0.5 and 1 kHz thresholds by 15 dB or more and,
- The 8 kHz threshold is at least 5 dB lower (better) than the maximum threshold in the 3, 4, or 6 kHz range.
As with other studies using NHANES-data, the study used the average of four audiometric frequencies at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz to define the speech frequency pure-tone average and the average of the three audiometric frequencies at 3, 4, and 6 kHz to define the high-frequency pure-tone average.
The study used a pure-tone average of 15 dB HL or greater in either ear as a cutoff threshold to define both speech-frequency hearing loss and high-frequency hearing loss.
About the study
The study used data from the American NHANES 2007–2010 surveys. NHANES is a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of the non-institutionalized civilian population of the United States conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 1,469 adolescents participated in the study.
Original Paper: Scinicariello F, Carroll Y, Eichwald J, Decker J, Breysse PN. Association of obesity with hearing impairment in adolescents. Scientific Reports. 2019;9(1877).
Source: hear-it.org, Scientific Reports