Leisure-noise exposure and hearing loss: a review


© E. Reis

Researchers from three Australian institutes and universities have carried out a review concerning the possible impact of leisure-noise exposure. The review was carried out by researchers at the National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney, the Hearing Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, and the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia. It focused on publications describing pure tone threshold data for adolescents and young adults, measurements of noise exposure from leisure activities, and the relationship between hearing threshold levels (HTLs) and leisure-noise exposure. The review identified 737 titles of interest including peer-reviewed publications, referenced conference abstracts, and postgraduate theses.

According to the article, there is a very wide range of viewpoints on the effects of leisure-noise exposure in a large volume of published materials. On the one end of the spectrum, authors came to the conclusion that the effects of leisure-noise are minimal, while on the other, it was found that significant HTL shifts and even major hearing disability are occurring in a large and increasing number of young people as a direct result of leisure-noise exposure.

The review showed that sufficient data confirm that some leisure activities generate potentially hazardous noise levels, but that the nature of the exposure-injury relationship for leisure-noise still needs to be determined. Specific data on the quality-of-life effects of HTL shifts related to leisure-noise exposure are also lacking, according to the authors. They found that some of the commentary was more speculative than evidence based.

Source: Carter L, et al. The leisure-noise dilemma: hearing loss or hearsay? What does the literature tell us? Ear and Hearing. 2014 Sep-Oct;35(5):491-505.