Original Research

The hearing function of sound engineers: A hearing conservation perspective

Liepollo Ntlhakana, Angie A. Heliopoulos
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 67, No 1 | a638 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v67i1.638 | © 2020 Liepollo Ntlhakana, Angie Heliopoulos | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 2019 | Published: 28 April 2020

About the author(s)

Liepollo Ntlhakana, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Angie A. Heliopoulos, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Occupational activities performed by sound engineers are associated with hearing loss. However, there is a dearth of research on the hearing functions and the related hearing loss for sound engineers.

Objectives: To determine the hearing function and early effects of noise on the hearing ability of sound engineers, and to establish whether there are hearing conservation programmes (HCPs) available for sound engineer participants in Johannesburg.

Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional design was used. Eight sound engineers from the Academy of Sound Engineering (ASE) participated in the study. The following data were collected from the participants: case history data, ear-related symptoms and hearing conservation data. Hearing screening followed by full diagnostic audiological assessments was conducted for each participant. Descriptive statistics and one-sample t-test were used to analyse the data (confidence interval [CI] = 95%).

Results: Participants reported tinnitus and aural fullness as common complaints. Only one participant had a unilateral impacted cerumen. All the participants presented with hearing within normal limits bilaterally, with a percentage loss of hearing (PLH) of 1.1% for all the participants. However, five participants presented with a notched configuration that was ≥ 10 decibel (dB), in the high frequency region at 3000 Hz and 6000 Hz bilaterally. One-sample t-test (p = 0.001) inferred that at a mean age of 27.6 years (standard deviation [SD] = 3.85), a notch at 3000 Hz and 6000 Hz was associated with an early sign of a hearing loss for the study participants. An HCP was not in place at the study site.

Conclusion: The study indicated a younger age as an associated early sign of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) for the study participants, and that audiologists’ clinical practice needs to explore HCP strategies specific for the sound engineers in order to prevent hearing loss.


Keywords

noise-induced hearing loss; hearing conservation programmes; hearing protection devices, sound engineers, decibels.

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