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Undersea Hyperb Med. 1999 Winter;26(4):261-5.

Noise-induced neurologic disturbances in divers exposed to intense water-borne sound: two case reports.

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Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, Groton, Connecticut, USA.


Divers may be exposed to intense noise underwater. Two cases of neurologic disturbances during experimental exposures to 15 min of continuous underwater sound are described. Sound exposure in the first case consisted of a warble tone with center frequency of 240 Hz and a sound pressure level of 160 dB re 1 microPa. Symptoms during exposure consisted of somnolence, lightheadedness, and an inability to concentrate. No apparent effect on hearing was noted. In the second case, a center frequency of 1,000 Hz at 181 dB was used. Lightheadedness, inability to concentrate, agitation, and head vibrations were noted during the exposure. The diver also exhibited a temporary auditory threshold shift of 19.2 dB. In both cases, overt symptoms resolved within 30 min after exposure, but both divers reported recurrent symptoms days to weeks after the exposures. Medical histories and examinations, assessment of dive profiles, and breathing gas analysis failed to support a source other than the sound exposures to account for the symptoms observed. Potential mechanisms for the described symptoms are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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