Study Points To Possible New Therapy For Hearing Loss
- University of Rochester Medical Center
- Researchers have taken an important step toward what may become a new approach to restore the hearing loss. In a new study scientists have been able to regrow the sensory hair cells found in the cochlea — a part of the inner ear — that converts sound vibrations into electrical signals and can be permanently lost due to age or noise damage.
Researchers have taken an important step toward what may become a new approach to restore the hearing loss. In a new study, out today in the European Journal of Neuroscience, scientists have been able to regrow the sensory hair cells found in the cochlea — a part of the inner ear — that converts sound vibrations into electrical signals and can be permanently lost due to age or noise damage.
Hearing impairment has long been accepted as a fact of life for the aging population — an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. However, scientists have long observed that other animals — namely birds, frogs, and fish — have been shown to have the ability to regenerate lost sensory hair cells.
“It’s funny, but mammals are the oddballs in the animal kingdom when it comes to cochlear regeneration,” said Jingyuan Zhang, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Department of Biology and a co-author of the study. “We’re the only vertebrates that can’t do it.”
Why Are We Doing This Study
The aim of this study is to test a new drug that may be able to treat sensorineural hearing loss. This is the most common form of hearing loss. It can be caused by damage to the hair cells lining the inner ear. When sound waves enter the inner ear, the hair cells move, which sends a signal to the nerve that runs from the ear to the brain. The brain recognises these signals as sounds.
Up until now, damage to the inner ear hair cells has been considered irreversible. Once hair cells become damaged, they will remain damaged throughout a persons life. Hearing aids can be used for people with hearing loss to amplify sounds to make it easier for damaged hair cells to detect them but there is currently no cure. Recently, scientists have made discoveries, which show that it is possible to regrow hair cells, and potentially restore hearing loss, using a drug known as a gamma secretase inhibitor.
Meditate For Better Hearing
Meditate in a park or other public area where you will be surrounded by various sounds. As you meditate, take deep breaths to help blood circulation and increase oxygen in your body. Focus in and out on each sound around you and try to locate where each sound is coming from.
This exercise will help you concentrate on deciphering sounds in noisy environments and determining the location of each sound.
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Signs Of Hearing Loss
Some people have a hearing problem and dont realize it. You should see your doctor if you:
- Have trouble hearing over the telephone
- Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
- Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
- Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
- Have a problem hearing because of background noise
- Think that others seem to mumble
- Cant understand when women and children speak to you
When Will There Be Stem Cell Treatment For Hearing Loss
According to Stanford Medicine, stem cell therapy involves transplanting new stem cells into the inner ears. The delicate hairs inside our cochlea, or inner ear, help us hear. Damage to these hairs can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Stem cells have the ability to function like other cells and also make new cells.These transplanted stem cells can behave exactly like the inner ear hairs and help restore hearing. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that scientists have been successful in growing human inner ear hairs in a culture dish. But they are still working on transplanting these hair cells into human ears and getting them to restore hearing.
âUnfortunately, to date, the only studies that have been done are preclinical animal studies. No human studies have been performed,â Sreek Cherukuri, MD, clinical assistant professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to Cherukuri, that means we are likely 5-10 years or more away from having a meaningful stem cell treatment option for humans for hearing loss.
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Hearing Aids Can Improve Hearing Loss
With todays hearing instruments, addressing this type of hearing loss or most types of hearing loss is no longer a challenge. Digital technology enables a trained hearing professional to program specific and accurate amounts of amplification per pitch to offset the hearing loss.
Todays digital technology also allows for the processing of sound in such a way that, not only can we offset hearing loss by amplifying specific sounds like speech, but background noise can actually be reduced at the same time!
So, while hearing can never be restored to the way it was, hearing loss can be treated, helped and improved with amplification and the impact it has on your life can be greatly diminished.
Want to find out for yourself? Take advantage of our special holiday offer and try hearing aids risk-free for 45 days. Youll be amazed at the difference hearing better can make.
Devices To Help With Hearing Loss
Your doctor or specialist may suggest you get a hearing aid. Hearing aids are electronic, battery-run devices that make sounds louder. There are many types of hearing aids. Before buying a hearing aid, find out if your health insurance will cover the cost. Also, ask if you can have a trial period so you can make sure the device is right for you. An audiologist or hearing aid specialist will show you how to use your hearing aid.
Assistive-listening devices, mobile apps, alerting devices, and cochlear implants can help some people with hearing loss. Cochlear implants are electronic devices for people with severe hearing loss. They dont work for all types of hearing loss. Alert systems can work with doorbells, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks to send you visual signals or vibrations. For example, a flashing light can let you know someone is at the door or the phone is ringing. Some people rely on the vibration setting on their cell phones to alert them to calls.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are a new category of regulated hearing devices that adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss will be able to buy without a prescription. OTC hearing aids will make certain sounds louder to help people with hearing loss listen, communicate, and take part more fully in daily activities. OTC hearing aids are expected to become available in stores and online in the next few years.
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Hearing Loss: Who To Consult
If you are suffering from hearing loss then consult your doctor immediately as they can help in improving your hearing and also may be able to help in reversing the problem or prevent it from getting worse. Your physician will refer you to a specialist such as an otorhinolaryngologist, which is an ear, nose, and throat doctor an audiologist, who specializes in testing and treating hearing loss and a hearing aid expert who tests and helps with the fitting of hearing aid devices.
Alternative Remedies For Hearing Loss
Alternative medicine is big business in the U.S. These days, essential oils in particular have been touted as “natural” remedies for everything from anxiety and depression to allergies and the flu virus. We have even seen some claims about essential oils that help hearing loss and tinnitus. The research doesn’t bear this out.
We’ve also looked into the claims that acupuncture might help hearing loss. After reviewing the research, we found little to indicate acupuncture will restore lost hearing. It may reduce anxiety, though, which is important for people with tinnitus. One remedy that does have some evidence behind it? CBD oil. While the studies were small and preliminary, researchers found that CBD oil may help with tinnitus relief.
A bone-anchored hearing system involvessurgery to implant a metal device intothe mastoid bone behind the ear.
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How Can You Prevent Hearing Loss
- Avoid loud noise, such as noise from machines at your work, power tools, very loud music, and very loud motorcycles.
- Turn down the volume on anything that you listen to through ear buds or headphones, such as MP3 players.
- Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
- Avoid putting objects in your ear.
Scientists Develop Method To Repair Damaged Structures Deep Inside The Ear
- University of Southern California
- Scientists found a new way to fix cells deep inside the ear, which could help millions of people who suffer hearing loss.
Researchers at USC and Harvard have developed a new approach to repair cells deep inside the ear — a potential remedy that could restore hearing for millions of elderly people and others who suffer hearing loss.
The lab study demonstrates a novel way for a drug to zero in on damaged nerves and cells inside the ear. It’s a potential remedy for a problem that afflicts two-thirds of people over 70 years and 17 percent of all adults in the United States.
“What’s new here is we figured out how to deliver a drug into the inner ear so it actually stays put and does what it’s supposed to do, and that’s novel,” said Charles E. McKenna, a corresponding author for the study and chemistry professor at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “Inside this part of the ear, there’s fluid constantly flowing that would sweep dissolved drugs away, but our new approach addresses that problem. This is a first for hearing loss and the ear. It’s also important because it may be adaptable for other drugs that need to be applied within the inner ear.”
“We’re not saying it’s a cure for hearing loss,” McKenna said. “It’s a proof of principle for a new approach that’s extremely promising. It’s an important step that offers a lot of hope.”
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Stem Cell Treatment For Hearing Loss: What We Know So Far
Hearing aids and cochlear implants help many folks manage and cope with hearing loss. According to the National Library of Medicine, stem cell therapy could soon be another treatment for hearing loss. Stem cell therapy helps regenerate damaged parts of the ears, without the need for hearing aid devices. But there is still some way to go before stem cell treatment for hearing loss is made available to the general public.
Sudden Hearing Loss: Usually Reversible
This happens when you lose all or part of your hearing all at once or over several days. About half of people with the condition regain their hearing on their own. It usually gets better in a week or two.
It can be treated with corticosteroid pills or shots. Read more about the different sudden hearing loss treatment options.
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Causes Of Hearing Loss
Loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Noise from lawn mowers, snow blowers, or loud music can damage the inner ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Loud noise also contributes to tinnitus. You can prevent most noise-related hearing loss. Protect yourself by turning down the sound on your stereo, television, or headphones moving away from loud noise or using earplugs or other ear protection.
Earwax or fluid buildup can block sounds that are carried from the eardrum to the inner ear. If wax blockage is a problem, talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest mild treatments to soften earwax.
A punctured ear drum can also cause hearing loss. The eardrum can be damaged by infection, pressure, or putting objects in the ear, including cotton-tipped swabs. See your doctor if you have pain or fluid draining from the ear.
Health conditions common in older people, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can contribute to hearing loss. Viruses and bacteria , a heart condition, stroke, brain injury, or a tumor may also affect your hearing.
Hearing loss can also result from taking certain medications. Ototoxic medications damage the inner ear, sometimes permanently. Some ototoxic drugs include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Some antibiotics are ototoxic. Even aspirin at some dosages can cause problems. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication.
What Is The Difference Between Sensorineural And Conductive Hearing Loss
Generally, sustained hearing loss can be classified in one of three given categories:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and is triggered by damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. These components of the ear are both delicate and complex, which make treatment difficult. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent and can be triggered by most of the underlying causes mentioned above. This includes aging, loud noises, and diseases. Genetics can also contribute to sensorineural hearing issues.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by issues in either the middle ear or the outer ear. Common types of conductive hearing loss include blockage , bone abnormalities, and damage to the eardrum. The middle and outer ears are less complex than the inner ear and are also easier to access. Conductive hearing loss has a much greater probability of being reversed.
The third type of hearing loss is mixed hearing loss, which means that both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are affecting your ability to hear.
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What To Do If You Or Someone You Know Have A Hearing Loss
If you think you or a loved one may suffer from hearing loss, the best thing to do is to have a hearing test. Your Audiologist can assess your hearing properly and from there, find the most suitable solution to restore your hearing.
If you have more questions on reversing hearing loss or would like to make an appointment with one of our highly qualified Audiologists to find out which solution is the right fit for you, give us a call at 1300 736 702 or book an appointment online.
Reprogramming Inner Ear Cells Via The Process Of Transcription
The loss of inner-ear cells is what causes hearing loss. And the ability of the remaining cells in the inner ear to divide and repopulate the ear by itself isnt possible. If it were possible, hearing loss would be restored naturally. However, research showed that cells could be induced to divide and regenerate hair cells after damage in the inner ear of a newborn mouse.
However, in fully mature ears, the ability of cell division is lost, and hair cell regeneration cannot happen. And in humans, even a newborns inner ear is already fully mature. Therefore, the researchers concluded that to develop new treatments for human hearing loss, it is vital to demonstrate that cell division and hair cell regeneration can be achieved in the inner ear of a mature mammal.
To demonstrate this, the researchers used a reprogramming approach in the new study to activate two molecular signals, Myc and Notch, in the adult ear. It was found that mature inner-ear cells can be induced to divide. And more importantly, some new cells developed characteristics of hair cells and the transduction channels that carry out the mechanical to electrical conversion. They were also able to form connections with auditory neurons, which is essential to hearing.
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How Is It Treated
Your health care provider can help you decide on the best treatment. Noise-induced or age-related hearing loss can be treated with hearing devices, such as hearing aids. Other devices can help alert you to sounds around the house like the phone or doorbell. If hearing aids don’t work for you, cochlear implants may be an option.
You also can learn ways to live with reduced hearing, such as paying attention to people’s gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice.
In other types of hearing loss, you can treat the problem that caused the hearing loss. For example, you may remove earwax or take medicine for an infection to help your hearing come back.
What Is The Treatment
The study drug, a gamma secretase inhibitor, is a small chemical compound that may help supporting cells in the inner ear to develop into new hair cells. It has been tested in animals in which it was found to be safe at the doses given. This is the first time the study drug LY3056480 will be tested in people. The study drug is a liquid that must be delivered to the inner ear, through the eardrum using a syringe. This technique is commonly used to deliver other drugs, such as corticosteroids, inside the ear, for example for the treatment of Menieres Disease. Each participant will receive an injection in one ear, three times in total by an experienced Ear Nose and Throat surgeon. The same ear will be treated during the study. This will be the ear most affected by your hearing loss. If you feel there is no difference, the study doctor will decide which ear to treat.
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Hearing Loss: A Common Problem For Older Adults
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Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. People with hearing loss may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctors advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.
Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing. But, some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing.
Older people who cant hear well may become depressed, or they may withdraw from others because they feel frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes, older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they dont hear well.
Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. If you have a hearing problem, see your doctor. Hearing aids, special training, certain medicines, and surgery are some of the treatments that can help.