Sports officials' hearing status: whistle use as a factor contributing to hearing trouble

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2013;10(1):1-10. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2012.736340.


The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence of hearing loss in a sample of sports officials and estimate the duration of whistle use required to reach a permissible 8-hr 100% noise dose. We conducted an online survey of 321 sports officials regarding their exposure to whistle noise and symptoms of hearing loss and tinnitus, and we assessed the acoustic characteristics of commercially available whistles. Male sports officials registered in Michigan had a greater prevalence of self-reported hearing trouble and tinnitus than observed in the general population of the midwestern United States. Sound levels produced by whistles range between 104 and 116 dBA, which corresponds to maximum unprotected exposure times of 90 to 5 sec, respectively. These findings suggest that whistle use may contribute to hearing loss among sports officials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Causality
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Noise, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Sports
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology*
  • Tinnitus / etiology
  • Young Adult