Within the inner ear there are thousands of tiny hair cells that detect sound waves and translate them into nerve signals that the brain interprets as sound. Damage to these hair cells is a leading cause of hearing loss for once these cells are damaged they cannot grow back. However, researchers have recently found a combination of drugs that increases the number of supporting cells in the ear and induces them to become hair cells. With more research these drugs could become a new way to treat hearing loss. To learn more, click here.
Dr. Kumar from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle has conducted a ground-breaking study that provides strong evidence that misophonia is a “real disorder.” Kumar’s team used MRI to find identifiable differences in the brains of individuals with misophonia. To learn more, click here.
Researchers have recently linked the difficulty some people have understanding speech in nosy environments to evidence of cochlear synaptopathy. In young people studied scientists are calling this “hidden hearing loss.” This study involves young adults who regularly expose their ears to loud sounds revealing a correlation between this exposure and early “hidden” hearing loss. To learn more, click here.
Over the counter hearing aids will become more readily available in the coming years. New FDA rules will provide better regulation of the quality of OTC devices and are better suited for mild hearing loss than more severe hearing loss, think reading glasses for your ears. It is important to remember that hearing aids and OTC devices are best suited to only one type of hearing loss without proper guidance, sensory hearing loss that is equal in both ears. There are multiple causes of hearing loss that need expert diagnosis and treatment and symptoms should not be ignored. To Learn more, click here.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. Hearing loss usually comes from prolonged noise exposure. Audiologists and healthcare providers will ask questions and screen those at risk for hearing loss, among other things. The CDC provides info on the nature of hearing loss as well as causes and treatments. To learn more, click here.
When talking and communicating with a person with hearing loss, it is essential to make an effort to use good communication strategies. Even if the person you are speaking to utilizes hearing aids or hearing devices, the communication process relies on the mutual understanding of all parties involved in the conversation. Be sure to know these strategies for effective communication. For more information, click here.
People experiencing hearing loss can also suffer from anxiety, depression, and a reduced quality of life. Companies like Resound are finding ways to tackle both problems through technology, including small discrete hearing aids that wearers can adjust through apps downloaded onto a smartphone or watch. To learn more, click here.
Typical hearing loss interventions, including devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants improve hearing but do not cure hearing loss. Your “regular” hearing cannot return due to permanent damage of the hair cells in the ear. Scientists are currently working on a gene therapy that may help patients regain hearing. They hope that by introducing a specific gene will stimulate the growth of new hair cells in the cochlea, thereby restoring hearing capacity. For more information, click here.
Since 2014, the United States Army has gradually deployed their new hearing protection system that protects soldiers from loud noises while allowing them to maintain awareness of the world around them. The noises soldiers experience day-to-day are damaging but traditional foam earplugs can be dangerous, keeping soldiers from hearing the small noises in their environments. This new device, called Tactical Communication and Protective System or TCAPS, provides a solution. To learn more, click here.
Screening for hearing loss is an important, painless process every infant should undergo. Even mild hearing loss can affect language and speech development, affecting future learning and school performance. More than ever our modern society exposes children and young adults to damaging noise. Screenings and early detection protects children from permanent hearing loss. For more information, click here.
For soldiers, even mild hearing loss can have a negative impact on battlefield situations. The common solution for avoiding hearing loss is earplugs, but earplugs may actually make things worse. Even brief, one second, exposure to the loud noises soldiers encounter can cause permanent damage, but the earplugs used for safety can keep soldiers from hearing important commands and instructions. Hearing loss in the military is ubiquitous but soldiers are avoiding hearing tests so that they can continue to fight, risking dangerous situations with compromised hearing. Audiologists should advocate for better solutions and an end to the stigma of hearing loss. To learn more, click here
There are many signs and symptoms of hearing loss that signify the need for a hearing test by a qualified audiologist. However, you should not wait until you show signs of hearing loss—prevention and early detection are important. As are reducing risks and avoiding situations and environments that may cause damage. To learn more, click here
Currently there is no medical or surgical treatment for noise induced hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to loud noise damages hair cells in the ear that do not grow back. You should protect your hearing but also take steps to keep it from getting worse by avoiding loud noises and seeing an audiologist for a hearing test. There are also ways to compensate for hearing loss including various hearing devices. To learn more, click here
Nearly one fourth of US adults aged 20 to 60 years show signs of Noise induced Hearing Loss, according to studies supported by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. Damage from loud noises builds over time. Avoid or limit exposure to loud noises in the workplace, at home, and in the community to prevent or delay hearing loss. To learn more, click here
More than one billion teens and young adults are at risk of losing their hearing from the effects of concerts, loud bars and nightclubs and earbuds. A study from the World Health Organization found that 50% of 12-35 year olds in wealthier countries listen to unsafe sound levels on personal listening devices and about 40% are exposed to damaging levels at entertainment venues. A lot of cases of hearing loss are avoidable—its up to us to take measures to protect our hearing because once it’s gone it won’t come back. To learn more, click here
Hearing Aides are very clearly associated with improvements in the social, emotional, psychological and physical well being of people in all hearing loss categories from mild to severe. There are many benefits to treating hearing loss. Hearing aides have great potential to positively impact the lives of their wearers. To learn more, click here
There is currently mounting evidence that links untreated hearing loss to impaired memory and diminished cognitive function. Researchers have found that in order to compensate for hearing loss, those who suffer from poor hearing may overtax their cognitive resources therefore limiting their ability to actually remember what was said. The cognitive load from constantly straining to hear may keep memories from forming in the brain. Hearing loss may even affect the area of the brain associated with speech comprehension and understanding—if this part of the brain isn’t exercised regularly brain tissue may actually begin to die off. We hear with both our ears and our brains—treating hearing loss in our ears with keep our brains healthy too. To find out more, click here
A young patient suffers from hearing loss in both ears following a traumatic head injury sustained in a skateboarding accident. What is the diagnosis? Sudden hearing loss after trauma can be caused by several problems—one is simple: blood in the ear canals. Lacerations around the ear and scalp cause blood to run into the ear canal and coagulate, blocking sound and leading to conductive hearing loss. Another cause is a temporal bone fracture, which may lead to a leakage of cerebrospinal fluid in the ear canal or a destruction of the cochlea and nerves of hearing. Most often sudden hearing loss is not described as a hearing loss but a feeling of fullness or pressure. Many times this leads to a misdiagnosis of the cause of the hearing loss and the assumption of middle ear fluid or infection. This is often treated with antibiotics which are ineffective for cochlear damage. Sudden hearing loss needs to be evaluated and treated aggressively during the first two weeks of the onset of symptoms and immediately if following a traumatic injury.
Concussion, also referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury, is one of the most common neurological conditions. Concussions disrupt brain function, which results in a multitude of symptoms including dizziness, poor balance and instability. After comprehensive evaluation to accurately diagnose vestibular issues rehabilitation is many times the recommended outcome. Researchers found that vestibular rehabilitation both reduced dizziness and improved balance after a concussion. Therapists administered various exercises such as gaze stabilization and walking balance challenges. The outcomes were positive regardless of age. These techniques are still being studied but the results so far are positive.
A new study of nearly 14,000 individuals has linked sleep apnea to both high and low frequency hearing loss. In this study researchers found that sleep apnea was associated with a 31% increase in high frequency hearing impairment and a 90% increase in low frequency hearing loss. This association is still being studied but the reason for the link may be caused by the negative effects of sleep apnea on the vascular supply to the cochlea, however noise damage due to the snoring, a common result of sleep apnea could not be ruled out as a contributing factor for the high frequency hearing loss.