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ST Toh, P Lu, M Ong, B Seet
Correspondence: Toh Song Tar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim To determine the prevalence of hearing disorders in Singapore military conscripts and describe the profile of hearing loss and associated risk factors.
Methods Population-based descriptive analysis of randomised cohort of 818 Singapore military conscripts presenting for medical examination, using self-administered questionnaire and pure tone audiometry performed for both ears. Main outcome measures are prevalence rate of hearing loss and relative risk of hearing loss by demographic factors and surrogates for noise exposure.
Results Prevalence of hearing loss was 36.7 per 1,000 (95% CI 24.8, 51.9). Of 30 subjects with hearing loss, 19 (63.3%) had loss at high frequency, 7 (23.3%) at low frequency, and 4 (13.4%) in both ranges. Hearing loss was unilateral in 17 (56.7%) subjects and bilateral in 13 (43.3%). Relative risk of hearing loss did not differ by age group, education level, race or frequency of personal stereo use. Relative risk of hearing loss is higher in subjects with frequent discotheque visits compared to those who never do so (RR = 2.72, 95%CI 1.09, 6.76).
Conclusion The high prevalence of hearing loss in Singapore military conscripts points to the need for routine audiometry screening prior to enlistment. This will be useful in assigning military vocations, in clinical case management, and for assessing cases of noise-induced hearing loss attributable to military service.
Keywords: Hearing loss, audiogram, military, screening
Singapore Med J 2002; 43(12): 622-627