Characterization of acute hearing changes in United States military populations

Quintin A. Hecht, Tanisha L. Hammill, Paul T. Calamia, Christopher J. Smalt, Douglas S. Brungart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Until recently, most hearing conservation programs, including those in the military, have used permanent shifts in the pure-tone audiometric threshold as the gold standard for measuring hearing impairment in noise-exposed populations. However, recent results from animal studies suggest that high-level noise exposures can cause the permanent destruction of synapses between the inner hair cells and auditory nerve fibers, even in cases where pure-tone audiometric thresholds eventually return to their normal pre-exposure baselines. This has created a dilemma for researchers, who are now increasingly interested in studying the long-term effects that temporary hearing shifts might have on hearing function, but are also concerned about the ethical considerations of exposing human listeners to high levels of noise for research purposes. One method that remains viable to study the effects of high noise exposures on human listeners, or to evaluate the efficacy of interventions designed to prevent noise-related inner ear damage, is to identify individuals in occupations with unavoidable noise exposures and measure hearing before and as soon as possible after exposure. This paper discusses some of the important factors to be considered in studies that attempt to measure acute hearing changes in noise-exposed military populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3839-3848
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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