Acoustic shock syndrome in a large call center


Poonamjeet Kaur Loyal

Call centers represent one of the fastest growing industries in East Africa. However, there are health and safety hazards unique to this new industry. This field is underexplored for workers of call centers in East Africa and this study sought to establish the symptoms of acoustic shock syndrome. In a descriptive cross-sectional study, a total of 1351 employees, male 579 and female 772 subjects were recruited. They were screened for Acoustic shock syndrome. Eighty percent of those who had symptoms were said to have acoustic shock syndrome. The age group of the subjects for this study ranged from 19-55 years. Those subjects with other medical conditions ENT conditions were excluded. Blockage or fullness of the ears was the most common complaint with 27.7%, followed by Headache (25.8%), then with 24.9% having otalgia. Prevalence of tinnitus (21.3%) and hoarseness of voice (21.8%) was almost the same in this sample population. Hyperacusis was seen for 19.5% of the workers. Other symptoms noted but which were less frequent include: recurrent loss of voice, muffled hearing, distorted hearing, phonophobia, nausea, dizziness, anxiety and depression. However despite the myriad of symptoms, only 21 workers had a form of hearing loss. 12 females had mild hearing loss while for the males, 8 had mild hearing loss and 1 had severe hearing loss. The most common symptoms noted were blockage or fullness of the ears, headache, otalgia. tinnitus, hoarseness of voice, hyperacusis. Acoustic shock syndrome mainly sets in the third decade with the most affected age group being 30-34 years, followed by 25-29 years and the third most affected was 35-39 years. Despite a good number of workers having Acoustic shock syndrome only 21 out of the 1351 (1.55%) actually developed some form of hearing loss.

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