Does diving deteriorate hearing functions?

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2023 Third Quarter;50(3):313-318.


Studies evaluating the hearing function of professional divers have yielded mixed results. In this study, we aimed to observe the effect of diving on hearing function by comparing the audiometry of experienced divers with a non-diver control group. Secondly, we aimed to compare the hearing function among divers according to the diving years and the number of dives in terms of diving exposure. Experienced divers who applied to the University of Health Sciences Gűlhane Training and Research Hospital Underwater and Hyperbaric Medicine Department between 2017-2021 for periodic fitness to dive examinations were included in our study. The control group was randomly selected from the non-diver population with similar ages and gender. The audiometry of the control group and the study group was compared. While the control group was found to be better only at 8,000 Hz in the left ear (p = 0.03), there was no difference between the study group and the control group in other frequencies and pure-tone averages. In conclusion, we did not find any evidence regarding the worsening effect of diving on the hearing functions of experienced divers. With the increased awareness of occupational safety in recent years, modern technologies, protective measures, and more conservative diving profiles may have minimized the possible adverse effects of diving on hearing function. Longitudinal studies on hearing functions in the same occupational diver groups should be conducted while observing the effect of different diving profiles and noise exposures.

Keywords: audiometry; diving; hearing; scuba.