September 02, 2019
Unlike hearing aids, which use microphones to amplify sound, cochlear implants use electrical pulses to stimulate the auditory nerve directly, thus compensating for a damaged inner ear. These implants do not restore hearing, but they do give severely hearing-impaired patients the ability to perceive sound. Cochlear implants are made up of two pieces: an external piece that fits over the ear and uses a microphone to capture sound and a processor to translate it, and the internal implant that receives the translation and sends it on to the brain via the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants can be quite helpful to people of any age who find little to no benefit from hearing aids.
Gene Therapy Restores Hearing In Mice
August 26, 2019
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are cautiously optimistic about the potential for using gene therapy to correct hereditary hearing loss. Their study focuses on the TMC1 gene, the gene responsible for helping the brain convert sound waves into electronic signals, which is how we translate noise into meaningful sounds. Gene therapy has been successful in restoring partial hearing in mice with hereditary hearing loss, and researchers are hopeful that similar clinical trials can begin on humans in the next 5-10 years, once it has been determined that the effects on the mice are not temporary. Fifty percent of inner ear disorders are caused by genetic mutations.
Headphones And Your Hearing
August 19, 2019
Most people are probably aware that headphones can affect their hearing by producing loud noises very close to their inner ear. However, sounds do not need to be extremely loud for headphones to cause damage. Even moderate volumes can cause hearing loss over time when headphones are used for long periods. In-the-ear headphones such as ear buds increase the risk of hearing loss because they bring the sound closer to the eardrums. Over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones can reduce this risk by keeping sound farther away from the inner ear and reducing the need to drown out exterior noise with louder volumes. Shortening listening periods and frequency is also a good idea, especially if hearing issues already exist.
Traveling With Hearing Aids
August 12, 2019
Traveling with hearing aids can require some extra preparation. When packing, remember extra batteries, domes and wax guards, a cleaning kit, and any Bluetooth accessories needed for your device. It is best to wear your hearing aids when flying, as you will be less likely to lose them or to miss important information from your flight crew. Hearing aids will not set off metal detectors or body scanner alarms, but it is always a good idea to inform security staff that you are wearing them. When driving, it is best to keep distraction noises, like music or audio books, at low volumes to avoid missing sounds from outside your car that could indicate safety issues.
Quitting Smoking Can Help With Hearing Loss
August 05, 2019
Quitting smoking can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your hearing health. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, which, in turn, increases your risk of hearing loss by reducing the supply of oxygen to the tiny hairs in the cochlea responsible for translating sound to our brains. Proper blood flow is essential to the health of these hair cells, and once damaged, they do not regenerate. Nicotine and carbon monoxide have also been shown to interfere with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerves that form the connection between the hair cells and the brain. Fortunately, circulation improves within hours after quitting smoking, and oxygen levels often return to normal after eight hours.