Exposure to noise over a long period of time can put your ears at risk. Unfortunately for many of us, we come into contact with noise in our everyday lives, from driving to the store to working at our jobs. Researchers from a busy city in Iran were interested if there is a connection between working as a bus or truck driver and developing hearing loss.
How Loud Are Vehicles?
Exposure to unwanted or disturbing sound that interferes with your normal activities or diminishes your quality of life is known as noise pollution. Even though noise cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, that does not make it any less harmful than other types of pollution you may be more familiar with.
The largest health complaint caused by this type of pollution is noise-induced hearing loss. In addition, research has found that exposure to noise can lead to sleep disruption, hypertension, coronary artery disease, gastrointestinal ulcers, job loss and mental health issues.
Sound from vehicles is the most common source of sound people are exposed to on a daily basis. Cars measure around 70-80 dB, while busses can reach as high as 80-95 dB. The source of this noise pollution comes from three sources, including the tires, how air comes into contact with the vehicle and the power transfer system, which includes the engine, exhaust system and air blower. The faster the vehicle is going, the louder the sounds are.
The noises produced by vehicles can affect both those who are driving them and those who live around heavily traveled roads. While much research has been done on how noise pollution affects those who live in the area, not a lot has been done on the effect noise has on the drivers themselves.
Hearing Loss Study
The study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine used information from a national survey program. In total, the researchers looked at data from 65,533 participants who drove trucks or buses in Isfahan province, a city with high traffic in the center of Iran, between February 2006 and March 2016.
In order to be included in the study, participants had to be more than 20 years old and have no medical conditions besides musculoskeletal disorders or back pain. All subjects were male.
Pure tone air and bone condition audiometry were completed to assess their hearing loss. Hearing was organized into four categories:
- High hearing loss
- Medium hearing loss
- Weak hearing loss
- Healthy ears
The results indicated that 26.8% of heavy-vehicle drivers had some degree of hearing loss; 4.4% had hearing loss in just the right ear, 7.8% had hearing loss in just the left ear and 14.6% had hearing loss in both ears.
Although these findings did not take into consideration the subject’s previous work history, vehicle type or use of air conditioning, the results do suggest that those who drive professionally are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss.
To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Decibel Hearing today.