Posted on Leave a comment

Recent Study Highlights the Importance of Early Intervention for Hearing Loss

When it comes to your health, early intervention is best. This seems apparent for health conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more. It is obvious to most people that it is better to treat these conditions early rather than when they have become severe and have had a greater effect on your body and your overall health. However, many people do not give the same thought to their hearing health. Just like other health conditions, it is important to seek out early treatment for hearing loss.
Over the years, research has shown that untreated hearing loss is connected to numerous health problems. These conditions include depression, social isolation and loneliness, anxiety, falls, and cognitive decline. By seeking treatment for hearing loss—like hearing aids—you can lower your risk for these health conditions.
A recent study highlights the importance of early intervention for hearing loss. In the study, researchers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center followed a group of 2,110 adults over a mean follow-up period of 9.1 years. The study evaluated the participants’ cognitive performance and hearing threshold using standard pure tone audiometry. The findings of the study were published in the March 2022 issue of the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
The study resulted in two main findings that are relevant to the issue of early intervention. First, researchers found that worse hearing was associated with significantly steeper cognitive decline. This indicates that an important step in protecting your cognitive function as you age is to treat any hearing loss as soon as possible.
Second, the results suggest that the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline may begin when the individual’s audiogram is still in the normal range. This means that hearing loss does not need to be severe in order to affect your cognitive function. Even minimal hearing loss can have serious, wide-reaching effects on your health.
This research, combined with other studies, underlines the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible. Many people think they should wait to wear hearing aids until they can no longer hear properly or participate in conversations. On the contrary, you should seek treatment from a hearing professional for any changes in your hearing, even if they are small.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your hearing, cognitive function, and overall health:

  • Get your hearing checked regularly. If your hearing begins to decline, even if it is in the normal range, ask your hearing professional whether you need treatment.
  • If you notice any changes in your hearing, speak with a hearing professional as soon as possible, even if it is not time for your regular hearing assessment.
  • If you have hearing aids, wear them! The only way to get the benefits of hearing aids is to wear them all the time when you are awake.
  • Stay physically active, eat a healthy diet, and see your doctor for an annual medical checkup. Since your physical health and your hearing health are connected, it’s important to take care of your overall health as well.

To learn more about the importance of early intervention for hearing loss and to schedule your next appointment with our hearing professional, we invite you to contact our office today. We look forward to caring for you.

Posted on Leave a comment

New Study Shows Promise for Helping Individuals with Auditory Sensitivity

Do you have auditory sensitivity? Auditory sensitivity, or hyperacusis, occurs when a person is overly sensitive to sounds. The most common cause of hyperacusis is damage to the inner ear due to aging or exposure to loud noise. For the most part, individuals with auditory sensitivity have been told there is not much that can be done for their condition and, besides taking simple steps like wearing headphones, they simply need to “deal with it.” A new study, however, shows promise for helping those with auditory sensitivity.
The study was published in the July 2022 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study was led by University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researchers Andrew Mecca and Giusy Caprara, PhD, in the laboratory of Anthony Peng, PhD. The researchers focused on the gating spring, which is a tiny, nanometer-scale protein structure that mechanically opens and closes an ion channel in sensory hair cell cells in response to sound vibrations.
For years, hearing researchers have hypothesized that the gating spring can act as a controller of the ion channel’s activity. The purpose of the study was to test this hypothesis and further explore the function of the gating spring in modulating the sensitivity of the channel. The researchers found that modifying a physical property of the gating spring—its stiffness—can control how much the channel opens and closes in response to sound vibrations in the inner ear. In particular, the study revealed that a specific type of signaling molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) reduced the stiffness of the gating spring and thereby decreased the channel’s sensitivity.
This study marks the first time a physiological mechanism for controlling gate spring stiffness has been identified. Peng, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and senior author of the study, said, “Identifying the underlying mechanism of this process—how it works physiologically and mechanically—provides an avenue for future research and provides an opportunity for the field to develop a new type of drug that can be used to prevent a type of hearing loss that occurs from exposure to very loud sound.” One possible application of the new research is to help people protect their hearing from the effects of loud noise. This marks an important step forward in the field of audiology.
The findings of the study hold promise for people who suffer from auditory sensitivity as well. If a medication were developed that could modify the gating spring, it may be able to decrease auditory sensitivity. This could bring great relief to those who struggle with hyperacusis. In addition, this new research opens a door for a better understanding of how the auditory system functions in general and how it protects sensory cells from potential damage.