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  • One in four Aussie workers have tinnitus

    Author: AAP

It may not be surprising that working on a hazardously noisy construction site or farm or industrial workshop can increase the chances of developing tinnitus.

But new research shows life as a driver - be it behind the wheel of a taxi, bus, train, forklift or delivery truck - puts people in one of the highest risk categories for developing the irritating and often debilitating condition.

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A study by Perth's Curtin University has found about one in four Australian workers suffer from a ringing, buzzing or clicking in their ears that can disturb sleep and leave them feeling anxious or depressed.

For half a million the noise is constant.

Researchers examined the prevalence of tinnitus in 5000 Australian workers and established certain factors which increased risk.

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Two times as many men had it as women and older Australians tended to suffer more.

The likelihood of constant tinnitus increased with age for both sexes.

But the jobs they did had the most significant impact.

About 42 per cent of automotive workers surveyed said they experienced tinnitus, compared with 36 per cent of those employed as drivers.

The results suggested with the correct workplace health and safety interventions, the unfortunate condition may in fact be partly preventable, the study authors said.

"The prevalence of tinnitus was high in occupations most exposed to hazardous noise levels, such as farming, construction work, automotive industries and other trades," co-author Professor Lin Fritschi said.

"However as drivers are not usually exposed to the same levels of loud noise as some other workers, it is interesting that this workforce has a high prevalence of tinnitus.

"One theory is that other workplace exposures, such as carbon monoxide in vehicle exhaust, may be contributing to the risk."

The role of workplace chemicals should be further examined, Prof Fritschi said.

The report was released to coincide with Tinnitus Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of the condition.

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