OTOAKUSTISKE EMISJONAR OG TINNITUS HOS UTØVANDE ROCKEMUSIKARAR
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Background: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus in musicians have been elucidated in a number of previous studies. Most studies have been focused on symphony orchestra musicians and pure-tone audiometric results. The use of transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) for early identification of hearing loss in musicians remains, however unclarified. Another unresolved issue is the diagnostic value of otoacoustic emissions in tinnitus sufferers. Purpose: The main purpose of this study was to examine a large group of active rock musicians to assess hearing loss, noise exposure and tinnitus and compare them to a healthy control group of non-musicians. Material and methods: The study includes a sample of 111 active musicians from the Oslo region, and a control group of 40 non-musicians recruited from the student population at the University of Tromsø. The testing was conducted using a battery of audiological tests including pure tone audiometry, TEOAEs and a questionnaire, with the same technical equipment and staff in Oslo and Tromsø. The results were analysed by using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) v. 21. Results: Bilateral hearing thresholds were significantly worse at 6 kHz in rock musicians when compared to the control group. TEOAE amplitude in the half-octave frequency band centered on 4 kHz was significantly lower bilaterally in musicians than in the control group, on both ears, although findings could be attributed to higher age and 3-6 kHz pure-tone hearing threshold levels in musicians. In rock musicians, there was a 20% prevalence of chronic tinnitus. None of the control subjects was a chronic tinnitus sufferer. There was no significant association between TEOAE amplitude and chronic tinnitus in our group of rock musicians. Conclusion: The results indicate an incipient hearing loss at 6 kHz in active rock musicians. The data do not indicate an influence on TEOAE SNRs in rock musicians that is independent of pure-tone thresholds or age. A large proportion of rock musicians suffer from chronic tinnitus. The data do no support the use of TEOAE for tinnitus assessment, but are indicative of a multifactorial etiology for tinnitus in musicians. These results should be corroborated with a longitudinal follow-up study to assess the long-term development of hearing loss and tinnitus in rock musicians. Relevance: This study is relevant for both musicians and clinicians who evaluate musicians with hearing and/or tinnitus problems. The study is made on a larger number of musicians than previous studies, and contributes significantly to our knowledge about health problems in musicians. In the global setting, there is a large number of young people performing or listening to rock music. It is conceivable that this could lead to an increase in the number of hearing related problems in the future. This issue merits further scientific attention.