Assessment of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in Wasit, Iraq

Husam M. Hameed


Background. The civilization and the major industries are responsible for excessive noise which represents an environmental pollution that can be highly hazardous to people who are occupationally exposed. Hence, new legislative actions are being implemented in many countries to mitigate noise pollution that is now being considered as a major public health problem. This study was done to inspect impact and nature of the noise pollution in in a selected group of patients in Iraq.

Methods. This research constitutes a retrospective study in which we evaluated 8907 patients who were transferred to a secondary care medical center in Wasit/ Iraq between 1/1/2006 to 30/12/2010, because of hearing problems. Data were collected on several characteristics including age, sex, residency, duration of noise exposure, job description, associated chronic diseases or psychological disturbance symptoms,  previous exposure to acoustic trauma or living nearby source of noice, level of education and the uses of personal protective devices. Analysis of their Audiogram and typanogram tests was also done.

Results. 805 patients were diagnosed as having varying degrees of noise- induced hearing loss . There was a progressive elevation in number of hearing loss patients  over the five years of study: 56, 92, 166, 210, 281 patients were diagnosed in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively. Male to female ratio was 15:1, 95% of patients were living inside the city, 61%  were outdoor workers, 12% were street police men, 23% were indoor employees working within a noisy field, and 4% of diverse occupations. 67% of patients were being close to the home/ street electric generator. There was significant correlation with duration to noise exposure, but there was a poor correlation with associated chronic illness like hypertension&/or diabetes and psychological disturbance symptoms like (lack of concentration, headache, sleep disturbances).

Conclusion. Noise-induced hearing loss seems to be an insidious growing problem among Iraqi people after 2006, it could be a preventable disease and it is a bad outcome of civilizations and urbanization. It has a clear impact physically and less psychologically on people, hence big effort should be done to raise population awareness about this specific form of environmental pollution.

Key words. Acoustic trauma, ear protectors, noise induced hearing loss, areas full of noise.

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