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Occupation and 20-year hearing decline. Findings from The HUNT Study

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  • 2022

Background: Studies show that certain occupations are associated with an increased risk of hearing loss. However, many studies are cross-sectional, and the few longitudinal studies are mostly small or focus on only one occupation. Aims: We aimed to quantify the long-term hearing decline among workers in different occupations and assess whether the change differs between the occupations. Methods: The study population was 4525 adults who participated in two population-based health studies in Norway, HUNT2 1996-1998 and HUNT4 2017-2019. Linear regression models assessed the association between occupations (clerks as reference) and 20-year hearing decline (hearing thresholds at 3-6 kHz, averaged over both ears) from HUNT2 to HUNT4. Models were adjusted for age, sex, recurrent ear infections, smoking and ear pathology. Results: Among the participants (40% men), the mean age at HUNT2 was 31.2 ± 5.4 years (range 20-39) and the average 20-year hearing decline was 11.3 ± 9.8 dB. Occupations that were associated with larger hearing decline included other craft and related trades workers (3.9 dB, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.2-7.7) and building frame and related trades workers (3.4 dB, 95% CI 1.3-5.4). Among occupations with larger hearing decline, a higher proportion of the workers reported exposure to noise. Conclusions: This...

Occupational Medicine
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