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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 78  |  Page : 343--349

Predictive factors of occupational noise-induced hearing loss in Spanish workers: A prospective study

1 MGO Group, SA, Department of Occupational Risk Prevention; Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
2 Center for Biomedical Technology, Madrid Complutense University, Madrid Polytechnic University, Madrid, Spain
3 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

Correspondence Address:
Armando Carballo Pelegrin
Territorial Delegation of MGO, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.165064

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The purpose of our study was to identify the main factors associated with objective noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), as indicated by abnormal audiometric testing, in Spanish workers exposed to occupational noise in the construction industry. We carried out a prospective study in Tenerife, Spain, using 150 employees exposed to occupational noise and 150 age-matched controls who were not working in noisy environments. The variables analyzed included sociodemographic data, noise-related factors, types of hearing protection, self-report hearing loss, and auditory-related symptoms (e.g., tinnitus, vertigo). Workers with pathological audiograms had significantly longer noise-exposure duration (16.2 ± 11.4 years) relative to those with normal audiograms (10.2 ± 7.0 years; t = 3.99, P < 0.001). The vast majority of those who never used hearing protection measures had audiometric abnormalities (94.1%). Additionally, workers using at least one of the protection devices (earplugs or earmuffs) had significantly more audiometric abnormalities than those using both protection measures simultaneously (Chi square = 16.07; P < 0.001). The logistic regression analysis indicates that the use of hearing protection measures [odds ratio (OR) = 12.30, confidence interval (CI) = 4.36-13.81, P < 0.001], and noise-exposure duration (OR = 1.35, CI = 1.08-1.99, P = 0.040) are significant predictors of NIHL. This regression model correctly predicted 78.2% of individuals with pathological audiograms. The combined use of hearing protection measures, in particular earplugs and earmuffs, associates with a lower rate of audiometric abnormalities in subjects with high occupational noise exposure. The use of hearing protection measures at work and noise-exposure duration are best predictive factors of NIHL. Auditory-related symptoms and self-report hearing loss do not represent good indicators of objective NIHL. Routine monitoring of noise levels and hearing status are of great importance as part of effective hearing conservation programs.


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