My hearing is fine, thank you, but could you please speak up?

By Heidi Watson

(Medical Xpress) -- More than half of factory workers who thought they had excellent or good hearing actually suffered hearing loss and didn't even recognize the problem, a new study shows.

The University of Michigan School of Nursing study found significant differences between measured and perceived , and suggests need better methods of testing and protecting hearing among factory workers.

"This finding shows that even workers who are served by a workplace hearing conservation program and receive annual hearing testing may be unaware of their actual hearing ability," said Marjorie McCullagh, assistant professor in the U-M School of nursing and principal investigator. "Consequently, health care providers would be wise to examine methods to help workers develop more accurate perceptions of their hearing, and test more effective methods to protect it."

Of 2,691 noise exposed automobile factory workers surveyed for the study, 76 percent reported excellent or good hearing. However, after formal , researchers found that that 42 percent of those workers actually suffered hearing loss. This indicates that self-reported hearing loss is poorly related to the results of audiometry, or formal hearing testing. In other words, many factory workers might have hearing loss and not even realize there's a problem, and the U-M findings are consistent with other studies demonstrating a between measured and perceived hearing loss.

In the U-M Nursing study, hearing loss was highly prevalent among the workers despite a regulated and a hearing conservation program. Noise represents one the nation's most common occupational health hazards.

The data was collected as part of an promoting hearing protector use among workers at a Midwest automotive factory.

Co-authors include Delbert Raymond, of Eastern Michigan University School of Nursing; Madeline Kerr, University of Minnesota School of Nursing; and Sally Lusk, U-M School of Nursing. The study appeared in the journal of Noise and Health.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genes influence age-related hearing loss

Nov 14, 2007

A new Brandeis University study of twins shows that genes play a significant role in the level of hearing loss that often appears in late middle age. The research, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, examined geneti ...

Study examines prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Jul 28, 2008

Hearing loss may be more prevalent in American adults than previously reported, according to a study in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Recommended for you

ER visits on the rise, study reports

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The number of emergency department visits in the United States rose from about 130 million in 2010 to a record 136 million in 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.