Author Topic: I get periodic inquiries RE the long-term effects of SCUBA on hearing.  (Read 1795 times)

DocV

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Heres' my customary answer followed by the very latest research (see below):  Diving-related hearing loss is pretty much limited to those who are commercial divers exposed to loud noses and divers who have experienced barotrauma of the ear. The recreational diver who equalizes appropriately and sustains no ear injury does not appear to be at significant risk for SCUBA-related hearing loss or tinnitus.
 
1. "Undersea Hyperb Med. 2011 Nov-Dec;38(6):527-35.

Assessment of the central hearing system of sport divers.

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

Source

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

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the effect of regular scuba diving on central processing sequences of sport divers who have no history of noise exposure or ear-related accidents using a comprehensive topographic examination of the central hearing system.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional controlled comparison study.

SETTINGS:

General sports diving community.

PARTICIPANTS:

81 sport divers with a mean of 300 dives each were compared with a control group of 81 non-divers.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

The participants were classified into three age groups. Hearing test results were combined for both ears. Examination included brainstem evoked response audiometry (BERA), cortical evoked response audiometry (CERA) and dichotic listening tests to screen for retrocochlear and central hearing disorders. Testing of brainstem latencies was performed in a gender-dependent manner.

RESULTS:

BERA showed a pathological extension of the I-V-latency in one diver. Magnetic tomographic imaging ruled out brainstem lesions. No reason for the measured latency could be detected. All other latencies (I-III, III-V and I-V) in both gender groups were within normal limits. No statistically significant differences between divers and non-divers could be detected. Dichotic listening showed no clinical abnormalities in any of the participants, but in the age group 18-29 years divers performed significantly better than non-divers (p = 0.01). CERA revealed no significant differences between divers and non-divers in the age group 18-29 years and 30-39 years, whereas divers in the age group 41-50 demonstrated significantly better test results (p = 0.045) (difference of the means: 4.18 dB).

CONCLUSION:

Dichotic listening and CERA did not reveal a significant reduction of central hearing performance in divers. Persistent on-shore BERA wave latency prolongations that were present in one study could not be confirmed in our study group. This first comprehensive topographic examination of the central hearing system of divers showed no abnormalities."

2. "Undersea Hyperb Med. 2011 Nov-Dec;38(6):515-26.

Assessment of the peripheral hearing system of sport divers.

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

Source

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

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."

Regards,

DocVikingo

jdiver

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Good stuff! Thanks, Doc.

Now for some anecdotal stuff - I am, er, older than dirt, and have been diving since 1956, mostly in warm water with some drysuit diving (some of that cold time I used Doc's ProPlugs).

I can hear quite well, including high pitch bird sounds like Cedar Waxwings a half to one block away without any trouble, and high frequency sounds many others can not. My last audiograms were very good, better than average frequency and volume for my age or even younger. So, that's one person, but I have been diving in much of the world, including deep and wreck diving. I do clear - a lot - with gentle maneuvers (prefer gentler than Valsalva) and if I feel at all cloggy will take a Claritin D on that day, stay well hydrated for many reasons. So, basically, I have tried to take care of my ears and eustachians as best I could over the years.

Not so sure how much that actually has to do with it, but at least I can say it has worked for me. 

DocV

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I do clear - a lot - with gentle maneuvers (prefer gentler than Valsalva) and if I feel at all cloggy will take a Claritin D on that day, stay well hydrated for many reasons. So, basically, I have tried to take care of my ears and eustachians as best I could over the years.

Yup. Early, often & GENTLE when it comes to equalization, any keeing any congestion under  control, will set the diver's ears in good stead.

For those interested in diving and the ear, and in alternate clearing techniques, this vid is a must see -->  "The Diver's Ear - Under Pressure" http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/

Regards,

DocV

DocV

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More research.+
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 11:50:09 UTC »
"Undersea Hyperb Med. 2014 Jan-Feb;41(1):41-7.

Does diving affect the hearing of Asian military divers? A study in the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Chng J, Chan G, Tang KC.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether military diving during a National Serviceman's two-year term of service affected his hearing threshold levels.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was designed to examine the hearing thresholds of divers (mean age 20.9 years) who enlisted between 2001 and 2010 (n = 748). Their pre-enlistment and pre-discharge audiograms were collected. All made dives using scuba dive sets, averaged 200 dives over two years and depths of 30 meters of sea water/msw or less.

RESULTS: The divers' hearing levels in the left ear were not affected except for a marginal decrease in hearing level at the 2kHz level. There was a marginal decrease in hearing level in 0.5, 1 and 2 kHz in the right ear. These changes are physiologically insignificant. There were more low-frequency (0.5, 1 and 2 kHz) changes compared to high-frequency (4 and 8 kHz) changes in both ears, with a larger number of changes noted in the right ear, as compared to the left. However, no diver had a hearing threshold increase greater than 20dB or exceeded the hearing threshold levels required of military divers.

CONCLUSION: There was no decrease of clinical significance in hearing function of the Republic of Singapore Navy national serviceman naval divers after diving for two years."

Cheers,

DocVikingo

 

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