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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 54  |  Page : 356--363

Auditory sensitivity in opiate addicts with and without a history of noise exposure


1 Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
2 VA Medical Center, Audiology, 623 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02909, USA

Correspondence Address:
Vishakha Rawool
Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.85508

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Several case reports suggest that some individuals are susceptible to hearing loss from opioids. A combination of noise and opium exposure is possible in either occupational setting such as military service or recreational settings. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, prescriptions for opiate-based drugs have skyrocketed in the past decade. Since both opium and noise independently can cause hearing loss, it is important to know the prevalence of hearing loss among individuals who are exposed to opium or both opium and noise. The purpose of this research was to evaluate auditory sensitivity in individuals with a history of opium abuse and/or occupational or nonoccupational noise exposure. Twenty-three men who reported opiate abuse served as participants in the study. Four of the individuals reported no history of noise exposure, 12 reported hobby-related noise exposure, 7 reported occupational noise exposure including 2 who also reported hobby-related noise exposure. Fifty percent (2/4) of the individuals without any noise exposure had a hearing loss confirming previous reports that some of the population is vulnerable to the ototoxic effects of opioids. The percentage of population with hearing loss increased with hobby-related (58%) and occupational noise exposure (100%). Mixed MANOVA revealed a significant ear, frequency, and noise exposure interaction. Health professionals need to be aware of the possible ototoxic effects of opioids, since early detection of hearing loss from opium abuse may lead to cessation of abuse and further progression of hearing loss. The possibility that opium abuse may interact with noise exposure in determining auditory thresholds needs to be considered in noise exposed individuals who are addicted to opiates. Possible mechanisms of cochlear damage from opium abuse, possible reasons for individual susceptibility, and recommendations for future studies are presented in the article.






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