Entries in Hearing Loss (10)


Cord Blood Stem Cells Restore Toddler's Hearing

Courtesy Stephanie Connor(LABELLE, Fla.) -- A virus infection Stephanie Connor acquired during pregnancy put her unborn daughter at significant risk for brain damage and lifelong hearing loss.

"It was traumatic," said Connor, of LaBelle, Fla., after learning about her daughter's condition.  "It was like mourning the loss of a child."

At age 1, baby Madeleine was completely deaf in her right ear and her hearing was severely lost in the left, said Connor.  While a hearing aid helped to amplify some sounds for Madeleine, it would never fully repair the damage in her ear.

But a simple experimental procedure that Connor enrolled in for Madeleine may have restored her hearing and reversed her condition.

In January 2012, Madeleine, now 2, became the first child to undergo an experimental hearing loss treatment through an Food and Drug Administration-approved trial at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center that infused stem cells from her own banked cord blood into her damaged inner ear.  Within the last six months, Connor says she's seen a dramatic improvement in Madeleine's ability to hear.

"Before, when she would hear something she would look all around," Connor said.  "But now we notice that she turns in the right direction of the sound."

Madeleine was also able to speak for the first time, Connor said.

For more than two decades, umbilical cord blood transplantation -- either by a baby's own cord blood or another's, depending on the type of procedure -- has been used to treat otherwise fatal diseases including blood disorders, immune diseases and some types of cancers.

Infusing cord blood stem cells into the body may also have the potential to heal and regenerate damaged cells and tissues.  

Regenerative therapy using cord blood stem cells is currently being studied as therapies to treat conditions including cerebral palsy and brain injury.

And for the first time, doctors are experimenting with cord blood stem cells to regenerate hearing in children who have suffered hearing loss.

This year-long study will follow 10 children, including Madeleine, ages 6 weeks to 18 months, who have acquired hearing loss and who have donated their cord blood to a registry.

Madeleine has already had one follow-up appointment to test her speech and language development, which are indicators that her hearing has improved.  She will have another one mid-July.

Dr. Samer Fakhri, associate professor and program director in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and principal investigator of the study, said it's still too early to determine whether the procedure benefited Madeleine, or may be beneficial for other children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Falling More Than Usual? Your Hearing May Be to Blame

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Poor hearing may play a role in causing middle-aged and older Americans to fall, a new study suggests.

After surveying more than 2,000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged 40-69, researchers found that for those on a spectrum of normal hearing to mild hearing loss, each 10-decibel decrease in hearing correlated significantly with an increased number of falls over the past year.

This association held true even when zeroing out variations in vestibular function – that is, the part of the inner ear that controls our balance, implying that this is not merely a side effect of increased wobbliness.

The authors propose that missing out on sound cues in the environment, or simply using more brain power to try and strain to hear, may be contributing to the increased stumbles.

Their research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Millions 50 and Older Suffering Hearing Loss But Not Using Aids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE, Md.) -- Of the 4.5 million 50- to 59-year-olds in the United States experiencing hearing loss, only about 4.3 percent are using hearing aids.

“These people are still working and going to meetings,” said Dr. Frank Lin, assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology and epidemiology at John Hopkins University. “They are the people who need it the most.”

In “The Prevalence of Hearing Aid Use Among Older Adults in the US,” which was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Lin and Dr. Wade Chien, also of Johns Hopkins, found that of the 26.7 million Americans age 50 and older suffering from “clinically significant, audiometrically defined,” or real, hearing loss, just one in seven used hearing aids.

For the publication, the two examined data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys, which has collected health information from thousands of Americans since 1971.

Lin said there were several reasons for the gap between those suffering hearing loss and those using hearing aids. He said that hearing aids were rarely covered by medical insurance in the U.S., but noted that even in parts of the world where aids were covered, the rate of people using them was not much higher than that of the U.S.

“The biggest thing is the overall perception that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of aging,” Lin said.

He said that because of the perception, people felt there was nothing they could do to treat hearing loss and little research was done on the condition.

Pam Mason, the director of audiology professional practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, said that many Americans 50 and older didn’t know the dangers of untreated hearing loss.

“Those that have mild or even moderate hearing loss may tell themselves: ‘I can get by,’” she said. “Somebody who has been a typical hearing person...if the hearing loss has been creeping on them...may not be aware that they are experiencing hearing loss. They don’t recognize they are having a problem.”

Both Lin and Mason said that ignoring hearing loss had broader, negative consequences. It’s been associated with poor thinking and memory ability and can lead to social isolation, depression and even dementia.

Lin said that most people 50 and older who did get hearing aids stopped using them because of improper counseling and training.  As with prosthetic devices, he said, hearing aids required two or three months of auditory rehabilitation to use them properly.

“They’re complex devices,” he said. “It’s not like putting on eyeglasses.”

Mason said that treating hearing loss was a process.

“It may even include auditory training, retraining your brain. It may include lip-reading skill improvement, recognizing how sounds look on the face,” she said. “Everybody is unique. Hearing needs are unique.”

“The most important parts for this population of people [ages 50 and older] is to recognize the signs of hearing loss and understand the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss and where to go for help you may need,” Mason said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Study Links MP3 Players, Commuting with Hearing Damage

Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests that exposure to MP3 players may cause hearing loss, according to HealthDay.

Researchers looked at thousands of New York City residents and estimated how much noise the residents were experiencing throughout their day. The findings, which were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that people damaged their hearing by listening to MP3 players, commuting on public transportation, and going to loud concerts.

One thing researchers are worried about is that MP3 players can run for days, while their precedents were battery operated.

The stydy did not directly measure exactly what New York commuters were listening to.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


East Coast Earthquake 'Cures' Veteran's Deafness

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- For Robert Valderzak of Washington, D.C., Tuesday's earthquake was a miracle.

Ever since he fell and fractured his skull on Father's Day, 75-year-old Valderzak had suffered severe hearing loss.  But after the 5.8 quake, he could hear everything.

"It was God's blessing," Valderzak told ABC News, his voice shaking with emotion.  "It was a miracle for me."

Valderzak was visiting with his daughter and three sons when the quake rattled D.C.'s Veterans Affairs Hospital, where he is battling cancer.

"It shook me terrible -- right out of the bed," said Valderzak.  "But after that it stopped.  And my son talked to me, and I could hear his voice."

Tests confirmed Valderzak's significant hearing improvement.  But his doctors think they have a medical explanation for the "miracle."

"He had conductive hearing loss, caused by fluid in his middle ear, as well as loss due to nerve damage," said Dr. Ross Fletcher, chief of staff at the VA Hospital.  "A combination of a drug he was taking and the earthquake event itself likely led to him losing the fluid and gaining back his hearing."

Dr. Jennifer Smullen of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary said the shaking itself might not have been enough to clear the fluid from Valderzak's inner ear.

"But if somebody was startled, and yawned or yelled, sometimes that's enough to clear some fluid out from the ear drum," she said.

In any case, recovering the ability to hear after going months without is a gift.

"People are usually very grateful, very happy, very surprised," said Smullen.  "They'll walk around looking at things that they'd forgotten made noise.  It's very gratifying."

Valderzak had adjusted to his hearing loss with the help of a special microphone and a crash lesson in lip reading.  But the situation was far from ideal.

"The devices helped, but by the time I got them all hooked up, everyone had left and I was talking to myself," he said, adding that lip reading meant he could only talk to one person at a time.

But now he can talk to all four of his kids again.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hearing Loss Greater After Age 70, Hearing Aid Use Low

Photo Courteys - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Sixty-three percent of Americans age 70 and older experience significant hearing loss, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied 717 people over 70 years old and found that of the participants with hearing loss, 64 percent were white, while African-Americans with loss of hearing made up only 43 percent of the sample.  Researchers further concluded that African-Americans only had about a third of the chance of having hearing loss compared with whites after looking at age, noise exposure and other considerations associated with hearing loss.

The study authors were not able to determine a reason why older white people have a greater chance of hearing loss.

The study also found that only about 20 percent of older adults actually use a hearing aid, despite the high rate of hearing loss among this age group.

"Any way you cut it, the rates of hearing aid use are phenomenally low," said study researcher Frank Lin, MD, PhD.

Lin and his colleagues reported in the study that hearing aid use appeared to be dependent upon the severity of hearing loss.  Only three percent of people with mild hearing loss said they used a hearing aid, compared to 41 percent with moderate or severe hearing loss.

´╗┐Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Hearing Loss May Have Same Cause as Dementia

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Those suffering from hearing loss may start to lose their memory as well, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.

After conducting a study of 640 people over a nearly 20-year span, Dr. Franklin Lin and his colleagues discovered those experiencing greater degrees of hearing loss are more apt to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's disease than those with milder or no loss of hearing.

While more studies are needed to prove his theory, Lin says that hearing loss and dementia may wind up having the same cause.

He claims that, if true, the discovery would have profound implications for public health because if hearing loss is detected early enough, it could also mean people could be treated earlier for dementia.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Occupational-Related Hearing Loss Tied to Sleep Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BEERSHEBA, Israel) – People with occupational-related hearing loss have more trouble sleeping than those who have not been exposed to sustained levels of noise on the job, according to a study published in the journal Sleep.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev examined individuals from the same workplace, some with work-related hearing loss and some without. Among those with workplace-related hearing loss, 51 percent reported suffering from ringing in the ears known as tinnitus, which contributed to their lack of sleep.

"The homogeneous study population exposed to identical harmful noise at the same workplace allowed us to compare sleep quality between similar groups differing only by hearing status," said study researcher Tsafnat Test.

Test found that workers with hearing impairments were older and had been exposed to the environment longer. Sleep problems reported included difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep and snoring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Second-Hand Smoke Could Lead to Hearing Loss

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(ATLANTA) – A new study has revealed another side effect to breathing second-hand smoke, reports Science Daily.

According to research published in Tobacco Control, non-smokers who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of levels of hearing loss.

The data, compiled from yearly household surveys and physical examinations of a sample of the U.S. population, determined that former smokers and passive smokers were both associated with impaired hearing. Previous studies have already determined that smokers are at a higher risk of impaired hearing.

About nine percent of those who have never smoked but have been exposed to second-hand smoke had a low- to mid-frequency of hearing loss. Just fewer than 27 percent had a high frequency of hearing loss.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Earlier Hearing Testing for Babies Could Improve Quality of Life

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New research published in the latest edition of the journal of the American Medical Association finds screening for hearing loss in newborns can be far more beneficial than waiting until the child is three years old or more.  Tests on nine-month-old kids, using technology developed in the 1990's, allows for an improved quality of life.

Before the new technology, screening depended upon input from the babies.  That was considered unreliable because babies can experience temporary hearing loss due to colds or could become disinterested in responding because they were bored or sleepy.  The new methods involve evaluating brain wave response to sounds and echoes. 

Dutch researchers have now found babies tested at nine months have improved social development and motor development, much closer to that of hearing children.  Hearing aids and language therapy done earlier in life is credited with much of the improvement.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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