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February 07, 2006

Hearing endangered among Singapore conscripts

Hearing loss is common among military conscripts in Singapore, but it is not known if the cause is the military service.

Too many conscripts in the Singapore military suffer from hearing loss, according to the conclusion of a study among 818 young men in the armed forces.

The study found that 3.7 percent of the conscripts suffered from some degree of hearing loss. 3.7 percent may not sound so bad, but the study was carried out with an unusually narrow definition of hearing loss, requiring a higher degree of hearing loss than other studies for the conscripts to be included in the group with hearing loss.

None of the conscripts had previously been found to have hearing loss. Among those with hearing loss, 63.3 percent suffered from loss of hearing in the high frequency range. 23.3 percent had hearing loss in low frequencies. 13.4 percent had reduced hearing in both ranges.

The researchers found few commonalities among the conscripts with hearing loss. No correlation was found between hearing loss, age, race, educational level or usage of stereos, etc. But hearing loss was found to be a bit more prevalent among those who often frequented nightclubs.

Need for hearing screening
According to the researchers, the study pointed to the need for increased attention to hearing in the military where the employees frequently are exposed to extreme noise. The researchers recommended that conscripts have their hearing screened before they enter military service. This would allow their tasks to be planned with due consideration paid to individual hearing issues. This would also provide a baseline for later evaluation of the degree to which the military service may cause hearing loss.

Source: ”Prevalence of Hearing Disorders in Singapore Military Conscripts: A Role for Routine Audiometry Screening?”, Singapore Medical Journal Vol. 43. No.12, 2002.

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