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Assessment of the peripheral hearing system of sport divers.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE
To investigate the effect of regular scuba diving on the hearing thresholds of sport divers who have no history of noise exposure or ear-related accidents. Comprehensive topographic examination of the peripheral hearing system of sport divers.
DESIGN
Cross-sectional study.
SETTINGS
General sport diving community.
PARTICIPANTS
81 sport divers with a mean of 300 dives each were compared to a control group of 81 non-divers.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE
Participants were classified into three age groups. Examination included microscopic otoscopy, tympanometry, pure-tone audiometry (PTA) including air and bone conduction, speech audiometry and otoacoustic emissions (OAE).
RESULTS
PTA suggested significant differences of the hearing thresholds at several frequencies between sport divers and non-divers in all age groups, although a Bonferroni correction for multiple testing was applied. Interestingly, the results were contradictory. Divers obtained better hearing results in air conduction, whereas non-divers showed better results in bone conduction. Speech audiometry and OAE did not reveal significant differences.
CONCLUSION
There are no published studies of the peripheral cochlear system of divers that have used a combination of PTA, speech audiometry and OAE. All studies suggesting hearing impairment in divers were based on PTA and might have been influenced by a lack of accuracy of PTA. Our results suggest that diving does not adversely affect the hearing system of sport divers. A thorough test battery of audiological methods implying PTA, speech audiometry and OAE may contribute to offer more reliable results to answer the question of whether commercial or military divers are at higher risk for hearing detoriation.

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  • Authors

    Hausmann D, Laabling S, Hoth S, Plinkert PK, Klingmann C

    Institution

    Department for Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Germany.

    Source

    Undersea & hyperbaric medicine : journal of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc 38:6 pg 515-26

    MeSH

    Acoustic Impedance Tests
    Adolescent
    Adult
    Audiometry, Pure-Tone
    Audiometry, Speech
    Auditory Threshold
    Bone Conduction
    Case-Control Studies
    Cross-Sectional Studies
    Diving
    Female
    Hearing
    Hearing Loss
    Humans
    Male
    Middle Aged
    Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous
    Otoscopy
    Young Adult

    Pub Type(s)

    Evaluation Studies
    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    22292257