Evaluate the audiometric asymmetry in Chinese industrial workers and investigate the effects of noise exposure, sex, and binaural average thresholds on audiometric asymmetry.
Data collected from Chinese industrial workers during a cross-sectional study were reanalyzed. Of the 1388 workers, 266 met the inclusion criteria for this study. Each subject underwent a physical examination and an otologic examination and completed a health-related questionnaire. χ2 and t tests were used to examine the differences between the asymmetric and symmetric hearing loss groups.
One hundred thirty-one subjects (49.2%) had a binaural hearing threshold difference of 15 dB or more for at least one frequency, and there was no statistically significant difference between the left and right ears. The asymmetric hearing loss group was not exposed to higher cumulative noise levels (t = 0.522, p = 0.602), and there was no dose–response relation between asymmetry and cumulative noise levels (χ2 = 6.502, p = 0.165). Men were 1.849 times more likely to have asymmetry than women were (95% confidence interval, 1.051 to 3.253). Among the workers with higher high-frequency hearing thresholds, audiometric asymmetry was 1.024 times more prevalent than that among those with lower high-frequency hearing thresholds (95% confidence interval, 1.004 to 1.044).
The results indicated that occupational noise exposure contributed minimally to asymmetry, whereas sex and binaural average thresholds significantly affected audiometric asymmetry. There was no evidence that the left ears were worse than the right ears.