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Risk of hearing loss in relation to vibration-induced white fingers among workers using hand-held vibrating tools
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
University of Gothenburg, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background Vibration-induced white fingers (VWF) may increase the risk of hearing loss among workers using hand-held vibrating machines who are exposed to noise and hand-arm vibrations (HAV). The present study uses a 21-year follow-up cohort of workers who use hand-held vibrating machines. The aim of this study is to examine the risk of hearing loss for workers with and without VWF who use hand-held vibrating tools.

Methods All 184 participants used hand-held vibrating machines and were part of a Swedish cohort. At each follow-up each participant answered a questionnaire on basic individual data, use of hand-held vibrating tools, and VWF symptoms. The VWF symptoms were categorized as with or without VWF. HAV acceleration was measured at each follow-up. Hearing threshold levels from audiometric measurements were categorized as normal hearing and hearing loss. Two exposure estimates were used and divided into two exposure groups: lifetime exposure to HAV (Time) and lifetime exposure to HAV multiplied by acceleration (TimeAcc). To be included in the analysis, each participant had to have hearing status, categorized VWF symptoms, exposure estimates and stated smoking habits measured in the same year for either 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, or 2008. The relationship between binary outcome of hearing status and the interaction of the explanatory variables, i.e. categorized VWF symptoms, exposure estimates, smoking habits and age, were calculated using binary logistic regression. Because of the repeated measurement of these variables, the Generalized Estimating Equations procedure with a first-order autoregressive correlation structure was used. Three analyses were made for left hand and left ear, right hand and right ear, and hand with worst categorized VWF symptoms and ear with worst categorized hearing status.

Results In our study, there was an interaction between exposure estimates (Time and TimeAcc) with the variable categorized VWF symptoms in the left hand on the risk of hearing loss in the left ear. Workers with VWF in the left hand had an increased risk of hearing loss in the left ear if they were in the low exposure group (OR 4.7-7.1) but not in the high exposure groups. There was an increased risk of hearing loss in the left ear for workers in the high exposure group without VWF in the left hand (OR 3.3-3.6) but not for workers with VWF. Workers with VWF in their right hand had an increased risk of hearing loss (OR 2.2-2.3) in the right ear compared to workers without VWF. Workers with VWF on the hand with worst categorization according to the Stockholm Workshop Scale (SWS) for the vascular component did not have any increased risk of hearing loss in the ear with worse hearing status.

Conclusions We found that workers with VWF who are using hand-held vibrating machines had an increased risk of hearing loss compared to workers without VWF. This result supports an association between VWF and an increased risk of hearing loss among workers using hand-held vibrating tools in a noisy environment.

Keyword [en]
Hand-arm vibration, noise, vibration, combined exposure
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-64150OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-64150DiVA: diva2:589170
Available from: 2013-01-17 Created: 2013-01-17 Last updated: 2013-01-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Risk of hearing loss from combined exposure to hand-arm vibrations and noise
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Risk of hearing loss from combined exposure to hand-arm vibrations and noise
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Hearing loss from noise exposure is one of the most common occupational injuries, and exposure to vibrations may increase the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Earlier cross-sectional and longitudinal studies found an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss among workers with vibration-induced white fingers (VWF) symptoms compared to workers without such symptoms. It has been suggested that vibrations to the hand stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and cause vasoconstriction in both the exposed hand and the ears and that this contributes to noise-induced hearing loss. The overall aim of this thesis was to examine how hand-arm vibrations (HAV) interact with noise in the development of noise-induced hearing loss.

The experimental study in this thesis examined the effects of HAV and noise, both separately and combined, on the temporary threshold shift (TTS) in hearing in 22 healthy male and female subjects. The two longitudinal studies in this thesis were based on a cohort of 189 male workers at a heavy engineering workshop. The first cohort study examined the risk of noise-induced hearing loss from long-term exposure to HAV and noise. The second cohort study examined if workers with VWF had an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss compared to workers without such symptoms. Finally, the questionnaire study in this thesis examined the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon among 133 men and women with noise-induced hearing loss in relation to exposure to vibrations.

In the experimental study, no differences in TTS in hearing were observed after combined exposure to HAV and noise compared to exposure to only noise. In the first cohort study, there was an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss with increased exposure to HAV in a noisy environment. In the second cohort study, it was found that workers with VWF had an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss compared to workers without VWF. In the questionnaire study, many men and women with noise-induced hearing loss had used hand-held vibrating machines suggesting that vibrations might contribute to noise-induced hearing loss. A high prevalence of Raynaud’s phenomenon was found among men.

This thesis demonstrated that there was a long-term effect on noise-induced hearing loss from combined exposure to noise and HAV, but no short-term effect, and that having Raynaud’s phenomenon may also increase the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Abstract [sv]

Många arbetare använder sig av handhållna vibrerande verktyg. Det utsätter dem för höga nivåer av både buller och vibrationer. Människor som utsätts för höga bullernivåer under lång tid kan skada sin hörsel. Risken för hörselnedsättning orsakad av buller kan eventuellt öka om personen samtidigt är utsatt för vibrationer från handhållna vibrerande verktyg. Syftet med avhandlingen var att studera om vibrationer i kombination med buller ökar risken för hörselnedsättning.

Avhandlingen består av fyra studier. Den första studien är en experimentell studie med 22 friska deltagare med god hörsel. Denna studie undersökte hur hörseln tillfälligt påverkas av buller och vibrationer, separat och i kombination. Den andra och tredje studien bygger på en population bestående av 189 verkstadsarbetare i Sundsvall som följts regelbundet sedan 1987. Den andra studien undersökte om det finns en ökad risk för hörselnedsättning för arbetare som utsätts för buller och vibrationer under lång tid. Den tredje studien undersökte om arbetare med vita fingrar har en ökad risk för hörselnedsättning än arbetare utan vita fingrar.

Vita fingrar är en kärlskada orsakad av vibrationer som gör att fingrarna reagerar onormalt snabbt på kyla. Fingrarna blir vita när blodtillförseln till dem stryps. Den fjärde studien är en enkätstudie med 342 kvinnor och män som har en bekräftad hörselnedsättning orsakad av buller. Studien undersökte hur många ur denna grupp som utsätts för vibrationer samt har vita fingrar.

Resultaten från studierna visar att det inte finns någon skillnad i hörselpåverkan från buller och vibrationer i kombination jämfört med enbart buller under kort tid. De som utsätts för vibrationer från handhållna vibrerande verktyg i en bullrig miljö under lång tid har en ökad risk för hörselnedsättning. Arbetare med vita fingrar har en högre risk för hörselnedsättning än de utan. En hög andel av de med hörselnedsättning orsakad av buller använder sig av handhållna vibrerande verktyg. I studien fanns även en hög andel med vita fingrar.

Sammanfattningsvis visar resultaten att det finns en långtidseffekt av buller och vibrationer på hörselnedsättning men inte någon korttidseffekt, och att vita fingrar kan påverka risken för hörselnedsättning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 48 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1546
Keyword
Hearing loss, noise, hand-arm vibration, combined exposure, vibration induced white fingers, Raynaud's phenomenon
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-64191 (URN)978-91-7459-543-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-22, Triple Helix, Samverkanhuset, Universitetstorget 4, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-01-23 Created: 2013-01-18 Last updated: 2014-07-08Bibliographically approved

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