Low body mass index and jaw movement are protective of hearing in users of personal listening devices

Lieber Po Hung Li, Ann Yi Chiun Chuang, Catherine McMahon, Tao Hsin Tung, Joshua Kuang Chao Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis Sound pressure level delivered through personal listening devices (PLDs) and reaching the ear drum might be affected by body size and jaw movements. This study aimed to investigate whether jaw movement and/or smaller body mass index (BMI) resulted in decrease of sound pressure level within the ear canals of PLD users via an earbud earphone. Study Design Case series. Methods Forty-five normal-hearing subjects (16 males; mean age, 23.3 years) participated in this study. A probe-microphone system was used to measure sound pressure level in the external ear canal with music delivered from a media player via an earbud earphone. Test materials consisted of two 20-second excerpts from a heavy metal music piece. Subjects were instructed to adjust the volume of the media player to conform to three conditions for sound pressure measurement: comfortable, loud, and maximum. Measurements were then repeated while subjects mimicked chewing action under the same listening conditions. Results Sound pressure levels were significantly lower when measured with jaw movement than without jaw movement (P <.05). Sound pressure levels monitored with/without jaw movement were generally lower in subjects with a BMI<23 than those with a BMI ≥23 (P <.05). Conclusions Jaw movement and low BMI (<23) reduced the overall sound level of PLDs at the ear canal. Sound pressure levels detected in the external ear canal of our subjects using earbud earphones were significantly lower under conditions of jaw movement/BMI <23. Our research invites further studies on a larger group of PLD users to correlate these variables with hearing threshold shifts over time. Level of Evidence 4. Laryngoscope, 123:1983-1987, 2013

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1983-1987
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


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