Brian C. J. Moore1, David A. Lowe2
1Cambridge Hearing Group, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK
2ENT Department. James Cook University Hospital, Marton Rd, Middlesbrough, Cleveland, TS4 3BW, UK
It is commonly believed that the effects of exposure to noise cease once the exposure itself has ceased. If this is the case, exposure to noise relatively early in life, for example during military service, should not affect the subsequent progression of hearing loss. However, recent data from studies using animals suggest that noise exposure can accelerate the subsequent progression of hearing loss. In this paper I review data from published studies on the effects of noise exposure on the progression of hearing loss once noise exposure has ceased, particularly for the case of noise exposure during military service. I also present some new longitudinal data obtained from military personnel. The results are consistent with the idea that noise exposure during military service accelerates the progression of hearing loss at frequencies where the hearing loss is absent or mild at the end of military service, but has no effect on or slows the progression of hearing loss at frequencies where the hearing loss exceeds about 50 dB. Acceleration appears to occur over a wide frequency range, including 1 kHz. However, there is a need for further longitudinal studies using a larger number of subjects. Longitudinal studies are also needed to establish whether exposure to other types of sounds, for example at rock concerts, affects the subsequent progression of hearing loss.