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Early prognosis of noise-induced hearing loss: prioritising prevention over prediction.
Themann CL; Byrne DC; Davis RR; Morata TC; Murphy WJ; Stephenson MR
Occup Environ Med 2015 Feb; 72(2):83-84
Moshammer et al have recommended routine implementation of a temporary threshold shift (TTS) screening test to identify workers particularly at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from occupational exposure to hazardous noise. Their work addresses an important occupational health problem. NIHL ranks among the most common work-related injuries in many countries, with an estimated global annual incidence of 1.6 million cases, and accounts for approximately 16% of disabling adult hearing losses worldwide. Individuals vary in their susceptibility to the damaging effects of noise and no suitable method currently exists to predict the susceptibility of a particular worker. Methods to identify susceptibility to NIHL are an important research topic in the field of occupational hearing loss prevention and have implications for millions of workers exposed to noise on-the-job. Eventually, effective prognostic techniques might help prevent NIHL. However, the large proportion of mis-identified workers, the many factors that influence susceptibility, the evidence of permanent auditory damage from TTS-inducing exposures, the ambient noise environment and protective protocols required to safely implement TTS screening on worksites, and the regulatory limits in many countries all argue against broadly implementing prognostic TTS screening at this time. Proven methods of prevention- reduction of noise exposure levels and consistent use of properly fit hearing protection devices-remain the surest approaches to reducing the burden of NIHL.
Workers; Work-environment; Noise; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Noise-levels; Noise-pollution; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Hazards; Hearing-loss; Hearing; Hearing-protection
Christa L Themann, Division of Applied Research and Technology, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1090 Tusculum Avenue, MS C-27, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Issue of Publication
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Page last reviewed: May 27, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division