Shilpa Waghmare*, Ruchir Khare and Dr. Kiran Patel


Background: Noise-induced hearing loss is an increasingly prevalent disorder that results from exposure to high intensity sound, especially over a long period of time. About thirty million workers are exposed to hazardous noise, with an additional nine million exposed to solvents and metals that put them at risk for hearing loss. This present study is a cross-sectional study that compares the hearing status of rail engine drivers, exposed to heavy noise for a duration of 10 years or more, and subjects working in quiet environment, matched for age, sex and work routine. Aim and objectives: To evaluate Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials in persons exposed to heavy occupational noise environment and to correlate the BAEPs and the hearing capability. Material and Methods: The study group comprised of 60 subjects exposed to continuous loud noise. The inclusion criteria included loco-pilots (rail engine drivers) of age group 40-50yrs, employed in Western-Central Railway, Jabalpur, and exposed to continuous loud noise (>85dB) for more than 10 yrs. Results: The degree of hearing loss was more profound in subjects serving for very long duration. 80% (4/5) of the subjects who were exposed to loud noise for more than 20 years had severe degree of SNHL, while only 3.7% (1/27) of them working for 11-15 years duration had severe degree of hearing loss. The mean absolute latencies of waves I, III and V were found to be less prolonged in the right ear as compared to the left ear in cases with mild and moderate degrees of SNHL. Only in severe cases the mean absolute latencies of these waves were more prolonged in the right ear than the left ear. Conclusion: Medical professionals and authorities concerned should make efforts to reduce the incidence of noise induced hearing loss which can be brought down to practically negligible using inexpensive and effective interventional technique. The effort may be in the direction of early detection or early intervention by making available ear plugs and ear muffs. The effort may also be in the direction of designing such machines which produce less sound.

Keywords: Noise induced hearing loss, Sensorineural hearing loss, Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials.

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