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Audio system: Symptoms, habits, and pressure levels (Almeida et al., 2020)

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posted on 10.06.2020 by Tamara R. Almeida, Clayton H. Rocha, Camila M. Rabelo, Raquel F. Gomes, Ivone F. Neves-Lobo, Alessandra Giannella Samelli
Purpose: The aims of this study were to characterize hearing symptoms, habits, and sound pressure levels (SPLs) of personal audio system (PAS) used by young adults; estimate the risk of developing hearing loss and assess whether instructions given to users led to behavioral changes; and propose recommendations for PAS users.
Method: A cross-sectional study was performed in 50 subjects with normal hearing. Procedures included questionnaire and measurement of PAS SPLs (real ear and manikin) through the users’ own headphones and devices while they listened to four songs. After 1 year, 30 subjects answered questions about their usage habits. For the statistical analysis, one-way analysis of variance, Tukey’s post hoc test, Lin and Spearman coefficients, the chi-square test, and logistic regression were used.
Results: Most subjects listened to music every day, usually in noisy environments. Sixty percent of the subjects reported hearing symptoms after using a PAS. Substantial variability in the equivalent music listening level (Leq) was noted (M = 84.7 dBA; min = 65.1 dBA, max = 97.5 dBA). A significant difference was found only in the 4-kHz band when comparing the real-ear and manikin techniques. Based on the Leq, 38% of the individuals exceeded the maximum daily time allowance. Comparison of the subjects according to the maximum allowed daily exposure time revealed a higher number of hearing complaints from people with greater exposure. After 1 year, 43% of the subjects reduced their usage time, and 70% reduced the volume. A volume not exceeding 80% was recommended, and at this volume, the maximum usage time should be 160 min.
Conclusions: The habit of listening to music at high intensities on a daily basis seems to cause hearing symptoms, even in individuals with normal hearing. The real-ear and manikin techniques produced similar results. Providing instructions on this topic combined with measuring PAS SPLs may be an appropriate strategy for raising the awareness of people who are at risk.

Supplemental Material S1. Study questionnaire.

Almeida, T. R., Rocha, C. H., Rabelo, C. M., Gomes, R. F., Neves-Lobo, I. F., & Samelli, A. G. (2020). Personal audio system: Hearing symptoms, habits, and sound pressure levels measured in real ear and a manikin. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00053

Funding

We would like to thank Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (2015/13741-4) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (157648/2017-6) for the financial support for this study.

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