New trends in the prevention of occupational noise-induced hearing loss
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Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Department of Audiology and Phoniatrics)
Online publication date: 2020-09-29
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Mariola Sliwinska-Kowalska   

Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Audiology and Phoniatrics, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2020;33(6):841-8
Noise exposure during lifespan is one of the main causes of hearing loss. The highest risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is related to exposures in the workplace, and affects about 7% of the population. Occupational NIHL is irreversible, thus its prevention must be considered a priority. Although current hearing conservation programs (HCPs) have proved to be very beneficial, the incidence of occupational NIHL is still high, reaching about 18% of overexposed workers. This paper reviews recent research on the effects of noise on hearing in pursuit of more effective methods for the prevention of occupational NIHL. The paper discusses the translational significance of noise-induced cochlear neuropathy, as recently shown in animals, and the concept of hidden hearing loss in relation to current NIHL damage risk criteria. The anticipated advantages of monitoring the incidents of the temporary threshold shift (TTS) in workers exposed to high levels of noise have been analyzed in regard to the preclinical diagnostics of NIHL, i.e., at the stage when hearing loss is still reversible. The challenges, such as introducing speech-in-noise audiometry and TTS computational predictive models into HCPs, have been discussed. Finally, the paper underscores the need to develop personalized medical guidelines for the prevention of NIHL and to account for several NIHL risk factors other than these included in the ISO 1999:2013 model. Implementing the steps mentioned above would presumably further reduce the incidence of occupational NIHL, as well as associated social costs. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2020;33(6):841–8
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