Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is the third most challenging disability in older adults. Noise is a known modifiable risk factor of ARHL, which can drive adverse health effects. Few large-scale studies, however, have shown how chronic noise exposure (CNE) impacts the progression of ARHL and tinnitus.
Retrospective large-scale study.
Audiology clinical practice.
In this study, 928 individuals aged 30-100 years without (n=497) or with the experience of CNE (n=431) were compared in their hearing assessments and tinnitus. In order to only investigate the impact of CNE on ARHL and tinnitus, people with other risk factors of hearing loss were excluded from the study.
Main Outcome Measures:
Noise damage was associated with a greater ARHL per age decades (pure-tone average(PTA)0.5-4kHz alterations 19.6-70.8 dB vs. 8.0-63.2 dB, ≤0.001), an acceleration of developing a significant ARHL at least by two decades (PTA0.5-4kHz 33.4 dB at 50-59yr vs. 28.2 dB at 30-39yr, ≤0.001), and an increased loss of word recognition scores (total average 84.7% vs. 80.0%, ≤0.001). Significant noise-associated growth in the prevalence of tinnitus also was shown, including more than a triple prevalence for constant tinnitus (28.10% vs. 8.85%, ≤0.001) and near to a double prevalence for intermittent tinnitus (19.10% vs. 11.10%, ≤0.001). Noise also resulted in the elevation of the static compliance of the tympanic membrane throughout age (total average 0.61 vs. 0.85 mmho, ≤0.001).
Our findings emphasize the significant contribution of CNE in auditory aging and the precipitation of both ARHL and tinnitus.