It is important to determine what frequencies and auditory perceptual measures are the most sensitive early indicators of noise-induced hearing impairment.
We examine whether hearing loss among shipyard workers increases more rapidly at extended high frequencies than at clinical frequencies and whether subtle auditory processing deficits are present in those with extensive noise exposure but little or no hearing loss.
This cross-sectional study collected audiometric data (0.25-16 kHz), survey questionnaires, and noise exposure levels from 7890 shipyard workers in a Shanghai shipyard from 2015 to 2019.
Worsening hearing loss was evaluated in the group with hearing loss. Speech processing and temporal processing were evaluated in 610 participants with noise exposure and clinically normal hearing to identify early biomarkers of noise-induced hearing impairment. Data analysis was conducted from November to December 2020.