Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAE)s are sounds that are emitted from the ear without external stimulation and are measurable with sensitive microphones in the external ear canal. At least one SOAE can be detected in approx. 35-50% of the population. The sounds are frequency-stable between 500 Hz and 4500 Hz to have unstable volumes between -30 dB SPL and +10 dB SPL. The majority of the people are unaware of their SOAEs; portions of 1-9% however perceive a SOAE as an annoying tinnitus.
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In conjunction with audiometric testing, OAE testing can be completed to determine changes in the responses. Studies have found that exposure to noise can cause a decline in OAE responses. In a study, industrial workers who were exposed to 84.5 dBA of noise were compared to workers who were exposed to 53.2 dBA of noise by considering hearing thresholds and OAEs before and after 5 days of work. This study revealed that hearing thresholds and OAE results were significantly lower among the workers who were exposed to higher levels of noise.
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