Original Research

Patterns of noise exposure and prevalence of hearing loss amongst Cape Town Minstrel Carnival musicians

Lebogang Ramma
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 68, No 1 | a789 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.789 | © 2021 Lebogang Ramma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 July 2020 | Published: 31 May 2021

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Lebogang Ramma, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is one of the oldest and most authentic indigenous New Year’s customs in South Africa. Musicians who perform at this carnival are exposed to excessively loud music and therefore at a risk of acquiring noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Objectives: This study aimed to determine patterns of exposure to loud music and prevalence of hearing loss amongst Cape Town Minstrel Carnival musicians.

Method: A descriptive, observational exploratory survey design was used and 43 participants (21 males and 22 females; mean age, 21 ± 9 years) took part in this study. Sound level measurements were conducted to assess musicians’ sound exposure during rehearsals and performances. All participants underwent the following audiological test battery at least 2 h before music exposure: Case history, otoscopic examination, tympanometry, pure tone audiometry and distortion products otoacoustic emission (DPOAE).

Results: Average noise levels recorded were 86 dBA during rehearsals and 98.7 dBA at performances and average durations of exposure were 240 and 10 min at rehearsals and performances, respectively. One out of 43 (1/43) participants presented with sensorineural hearing loss. Audiometric results of the remaining participants were normal and did not show a pattern suggestive of NIHL. A high proportion of participants (21/43) reported experiencing tinnitus.

Conclusion: Despite being exposed to high levels of noise, there was a low prevalence of hearing loss amongst these musicians. However, a high proportion of them reported tinnitus, which could be an indication that they were at a high risk of NIHL from the music that they played.


noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL); musicians; minstrel carnival; noise exposure; prevalence


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