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Can playing golf damage hearing?

6th January 2009

People who enjoy playing golf have been advised by doctors that they face potential hearing loss if they use certain types of equipment.


Doctors, writing in the British Medical Journal, warn that golfers who use titanium drivers should think about wearing ear plugs.

The case of a 55-year old man who suffered hearing damage was attributed to the "sonic boom" the top of the golf club emits when it hits the ball.

The patient had used a King Cobra LD titanium club regularly for 18 months and compared the sound of the ball hitting the club as "like a gun going off".

Specialists at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital performed tests on the man after he complained of tinnitus and hearing difficulties in one ear.

Their tests showed that his hearing loss was consistent with that seen by people who had been exposed to "loud noises".

The doctors then carried out research by recording the noise made by a professional golfer when he used thin-faced golf clubs.

One club produced a noise that was recorded as more than 130 decibels.

Lead researcher Dr Malcom Buchanan said: "Our results show that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals."

Crystal Rolfe, an audiologist for the RNID, said: "Earplugs would offer some protection and if someone was playing regularly with these types of club they might consider wearing them. But this is only one individual case so we need more research."


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Article Information

Title: Can playing golf damage hearing?
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9715
Date Added: 6th Jan 2009


BBC News
NHS Choices

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