Background: A number of studies have demonstrated that solvents may induce auditory dysfunction. However, there is still little knowledge regarding the main signs and symptoms of solvent-induced hearing loss (SIHL). The aim of this research was to investigate the association between solvent exposure and adverse effects on peripheral and central auditory functioning with a comprehensive audiological test battery.
Methods: Seventy-two solvent-exposed workers and 72 non-exposed workers were selected to participate in the study. The test battery comprised pure-tone audiometry (PTA), transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE), Random Gap Detection (RGD) and Hearing-in-Noise test (HINT).
Results: Solvent-exposed subjects presented with poorer mean test results than non-exposed subjects. A bivariate and multivariate linear regression model analysis was performed. One model for each auditory outcome (PTA, TEOAE, RGD and HINT) was independently constructed. For all of the models solvent exposure was significantly associated with the auditory outcome. Age also appeared significantly associated with some auditory outcomes.
Conclusions: This study provides further evidence of the possible adverse effect of solvents on the peripheral and central auditory functioning. A discussion of these effects and the utility of selected hearing tests to assess SIHL is addressed.