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Study finds 2 in 10 students hard of hearingSchool checkups fail to identify adolescents with hearing loss
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.04.26 11:15
  • Updated 2017.04.26 13:54
  • comments 0

Inadequate hearing tests done by schools have been unable to find many teens with hearing problems resulting from the portable audio system and frequent visits to Internet cafes, a recent study shows.

The study by Korean Index of ENT Specialties (KIES), based on its survey of 3,013 middle and high school students, has disproved statistics at Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and school tests conducted in 2010.

The KIES found that 12.7 percent of seventh-grade students and 10.4 percent of 10th-grade students fell into the World Health Organization’s category of hearing loss (cannot hear at 15 decibels). When the high frequency is included, 17.9 percent of the 7th graders and 16.5 percent of 10th graders belong to the category of possible noise-induced hearing loss, it showed.

In contrast, KCDC studies conducted in 2010 identified only 5.4 percent of elementary, middle, and high school students with hearing loss. School examinations performed in the same year put the figure at an even lower 0.47 percent, indicating its hearing tests fall far from actual numbers.

Members of Korean Index of ENT Specialties present ways to improve school checkup system tests to better identify students with hearing problems, at a news conference on Sunday.

The KIES study, conducted from February 2016 to February 2017, consisted of 63 ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialists who conducted direct examinations, and professional audiologists who followed up with testing students at seven frequencies, including high-to-low frequency from 500 to 8000 Hz. The study also included portable soundproof equipment along with verified hearing test equipment, not present in school examinations.

Panel members at the KIES spring conference called for solutions to quickly identify adolescents with hearing loss based on the study, suggesting conducting examinations at second-tier hospitals and ENT clinics that have sound proof systems and hearing tests. The ENT specialists also called for adolescents to be tested four times through elementary, middle, and high school.

“Hearing impairment can affect a student’s academic performance and can continue to create barriers to communication in social life and the workplace,” said Professor Oh Seung-ha of Seoul University, Chairman of the ENT Hearing Loss Reduction Project. “The social cost of neglecting this problem can reach up to 72.6 billion won ($63.6 million).”

Professor Oh has called for “early diagnosis and prevention” as the best course of action and called for accurate hearing tests that include high frequencies above 3 KHz for adolescents.


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