One of the major occupational hazards of working in military service is being subjected to intense impulse noise. We analyzed the clinical presentation of acoustic traumas, induced by mass rifle gunshot noise during military training, in unprotected patients. We evaluated 189 soldiers who had otologic symptoms after rifle shooting exercises without using any hearing protection. All soldiers had been training on the K2 rifle. We took medical histories; conducted physical examinations and hearing evaluations (pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, and impedence audiometry); and distributed the Newmann's Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) survey. In addition, we evaluated a normal control group of 64 subjects of similar age who had never fired a rifle. In the patient group, the most common and irritating reported symptom was tinnitus (94.2%), and the average THI score in the patient group was 39.51 ± 14.87, which was significantly higher than the control group score (0.56 ± 3.94) (p < 0.001). Average outcomes of post-exposure air conduction thresholds were 21.33 ± 13.25 dB HL in the affected ears. These levels also were significantly higher than those of the control group (9.16 ± 4.07dB HL) (p < 0.001). Hearing loss was most prominent at high frequencies. An asymmetry of hearing loss related to head position during shooting was not observed. Acoustic trauma induced by gunshot noise can cause permanent tinnitus and hearing loss. Hearing protection (bilateral earplugs) and environmental reform are necessary.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
T his study was supported by a grant of the Korean Health-care Technology R&D Project for Health, Welfare & Family Affairs, Republic of Korea (Project Number A090217).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health