Noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) still remains a problem in developed countries, despite reduced occupational noise exposure, strict standards for hearing protection and extensive public health awareness campaigns. Therefore NIHL continues to be the focus of noise research activities. This paper summarizes progress achieved recently in our knowledge of NIHL. It includes papers published between the years 2008-2011 (in English), which were identified by a literature search of accessible medical and other relevant databases. A substantial part of this research has been concerned with the risk of NIHL in the entertainment sector, particularly in professional, orchestral musicians. There are also constant concerns regarding noise exposure and hearing risk in "hard to control" occupations, such as farming and construction work. Although occupational noise has decreased since the early 1980s, the number of young people subject to social noise exposure has tripled. If the exposure limits from the Noise at Work Regulations are applied, discotheque music, rock concerts, as well as music from personal music players are associated with the risk of hearing loss in teenagers and young adults. Several recent research studies have increased the understanding of the pathomechanisms of acoustic trauma, the genetics of NIHL, as well as possible dietary and pharmacologic otoprotection in acoustic trauma. The results of these studies are very promising and offer grounds to expect that targeted therapies might help prevent the loss of sensory hair cells and protect the hearing of noise-exposed individuals. These studies emphasize the need to launch an improved noise exposure policy for hearing protection along with developing more efficient norms of NIHL risk assessment.

Sliwinska-Kowalska M, Davis A. Noise-induced hearing loss. Noise Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2013 Mar 18];14:274-80. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/61/274/104893

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