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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 78  |  Page : 273--281

Shooting history and presence of high-frequency hearing impairment in swedish hunters: A cross-sectional internet-based observational study

1 Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institute and Aleris Specialist Center, Sabbatsberg, Stockholm, Sweden
2 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute and Aleris Specialist Center, Sabbatsberg, Stockholm, Sweden
3 Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology; Department of Audiology and Neurotology, Karolinska Institute and Aleris Specialist Center, Sabbatsberg, Stockholm, Sweden

Correspondence Address:
Louise Honeth
EarNoseandThroat Specialist Aleris Specialistvård Sabbatsberg, Olivecronas väg 1, Box 6424, Stockholm - 113 82
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.165043

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The aim of this cross-sectional study among Swedish hunters was to examine the association between shooting history and presence of high-frequency hearing impairment (HFHI). All hunters registered with an e-mail address in the membership roster of the Swedish Hunters' Association were invited via e-mail to a secure website with a questionnaire and an Internet-based audiometry test. Associations, expressed as prevalence ratio (PR), were multivariately modelled using Poisson regression. The questionnaire was answered by 1771 hunters (age 11-91 years), and 202 of them also completed the audiometry test. Subjective severe hearing loss was reported by 195/1771 (11%), while 23/202 (11%) exhibited HFHI upon testing with Internet-based audiometry. As many as 328/1771 (19%) had never used hearing protection during hunting. In the preceding 5 years, 785/1771 (45%), had fired >6 unprotected gunshots with hunting rifle calibers. The adjusted PR of HFHI when reporting 1-6 such shots, relative to 0, was 1.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-2.1; P = 0.02]. We could not verify any excessive HFHI prevalence among 89 hunters reporting unprotected exposure to such gunshot noise >6 times. Nor did the total number of reported rifle shots seem to matter. These findings support the notion of a wide variation in individual susceptibility to impulse noise; that significant sound energy, corresponding to unprotected noise from hunting rifle calibers, seems to be required; that susceptible individuals may sustain irreversible damage to the inner ear from just one or a few shots; and that use of hearing protection should be encouraged from the first shot with such weapons.


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