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Heading a football could create Balance issues

Heading a Football May Be Linked to Increase in Balance Problems

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Soccer players who head the ball more often may be more likely to have balance problems than players who do not head the ball as often, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Sports’ Concussion Conference in Indianapolis July 20 to 22, 2018, the AAN announced on its website.

“Soccer headers are repetitive subconcussive head impacts that may be associated with problems with thinking and memory skills and structural changes in the white matter of the brain,” said study author John Jeka, PhD, of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. “But the effect of headers on balance control has not been studied.”

For the study, 20 soccer players recruited from the community in Newark took a balance test where they walked along a foam walkway with their eyes closed under two conditions: with galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) and without GVS. For GVS, electrodes placed behind each ear stimulate the nerves that send messages from the balance system in the inner ear to the brain. So the stimulator can make you feel like you are moving when you are not. In this case, it made participants feel like they were falling sideways.

The soccer players, who had an average age of 22, also completed questionnaires about how many times they had headed the ball during the past year. The number of headers over a year for each participant ranged from 16 to 2,100, with an average of 451 headers. Those numbers were calculated by asking participants for the average number of headers during a practice and game, the average number of practices and games per week, and the average number of months per year that the player participated.

The study found that the players with the largest number of headers had the largest balance responses to GVS in both foot placement and hip adduction during the walking test, which indicated that they had vestibular processing and balance recovery problems. Researchers found for every 500 headers, foot placement response increased about 9 millimeters and hip adduction response increased about 0.2 degrees.

“Soccer players must have good balance to play the game well, yet our research suggests that headers may be undermining balance, which is key to all movement, and yet another problem now linked to headers,” said study author Fernando V. Santos, PT, of the University of Delaware. “It is important that additional research be done to look more closely at this possible link with balance and to confirm our findings in larger groups of people.”

A limitation of the study was that participants relied on memory when reporting how many times they headed the ball. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Learn more about concussion at www.BrainandLife.org, the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine and website focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

To learn more about the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline and access resources, visit https://www.aan.com/concussion.

Original Paper: Santos FV, Caccese JB, Gongora M, et al. Greater exposure to repetitive subconcussive head impacts is associated with vestibular dysfunction and balance impairments during walking. Paper presented at: 2018 AAN Sports Concussion Conference; Indianapolis, IN. https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/GetDigitalAsset/12757

Source: AAN

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Tinnitus App now available

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An international study from 2012 found that 15% of the global population experience permanent tinnitus but many more are affected by temporary tinnitus. A Danish study, also from 2012, with 14,000 participants found that 27% of those in the study experienced either temporary or permanent tinnitus. In other words, more than one quarter of the Danish population are affected tinnitus.

But despite a lot of research on the topic, there is still a lot to learn about tinnitus. According to Chief Physician Ture Andersen at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, tinnitus is often a symptom of damage to the inner ear. Tinnitus is not a disease, but can be a symptom of a disease or an impaired auditory system. It is defined as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is actually present. The sounds are most commonly described as ringing, whistling, wheezing, buzzing or humming, but can be described in many other ways. A large Swedish study showed that excessive noise at work and in other environments results in fatigue, headaches and ultimately impaired hearing or tinnitus. Another study, from France, shows that only one in 123 people with tinnitus do not have a hearing impairment.

 

Eva’s history

Eva Jensen, who lives in Greve, Denmark, fits in well to these statistics. With a moderate to severe hearing loss, Eva can’t hear much without her hearing aids and she experiences tinnitus.

“What does your tinnitus sound like?” I asked Eva. She explained that it is a constant buzzing sound, which lies somewhere in the middle of the pitch spectrum. “I think it developed at my work where there was a lot of noise,” says Eva. In 2006 she stopped working as an Educational Assistant in a nursery because of a back injury and since then she has suffered from constant back pain.

“It was only when I stopped working that I started thinking about my tinnitus. My husband was still working so I was at home alone where it was completely quiet and I became more aware of the ringing in my ears.” She experiences it all day, especially when she takes off her hearing aids in the evening. “Since my injury I have the TV on constantly – it helps me think of something other than my back pain,” says Eva.

Eva’s experience with Relief app

“It’s really great to be able to use the app when my tinnitus is driving me crazy. If you are strongly affected by tinnitus, I would definitely recommend this app. There are so many possibilities with creating your own soundscapes, you can always find a sound that’s comfortable. There is no doubt that I’m going to keep it on my phone, so I can get help when my tinnitus it really bothering me,” says Eva with a smile.

ReSound Relief

The idea of helping people focus on something other than the pain, or in this case tinnitus, is the basic concept of a new app made by the hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing. The free app is called ReSound Relief and offers a combination of audio therapy and relaxation exercises. My editorial team and I tested the app, which offers some new and unique features compared to other apps we have tried. One very smart feature of the app is that it allows you to create your own soundscapes.

Relief allows you to combine a variety of familiar sounds such as birdsong or bubbling water with music and other therapeutic nature sounds. The ability to combine sounds, offers an almost endless amount of possibilities. This sound mixing feature allows you to mix five different sounds and you can individually adjust the volume of each sound.

After downloading the app, you can listen to music on your smartphone as usual, and if you use wireless hearing aids or headphones, you can stream directly through them. The ReSound Relief app also contains a feature called MyRelief that keeps a record of how you use the app and which sounds you have used the most. It creates a personalized plan and allows you to track your progress, much like an exercise app. “When we were developing the concept of this app, we analyzed the market for other tinnitus apps and found that mostof them just use sounds as a distraction. Very few actually guide the user through the tinnitus management process. Tinnitus management for many is more than just playing a sound.

The idea of MyRelief is that you can use it as part of the treatment provided by a Hearing Care Professional. Because MyRelief keeps a record of your use, it provides useful information that a Hearing Care professional can use as part of tinnitus counseling” says Michael Piskosz, Senior Audiologist at GN Hearing.

The app gives you some great tools to help you with your tinnitus.

Learn more about ReSound Relief

Avoid a vicious spiral

Worldwide, around 700 million people experience tinnitus. Around two thirds of them have mild to moderate tinnitus. People in the last third with more severe tinnitus can even experience feelings of desperation and hopelessness. International studies show that only about 3-5% of people seek help, so many people just try to live with tinnitus without any support. “In the United States, 70-80% of the population have a smartphone, and because we know that many people are desperately searching for help, we made this app. In most cases, the app will be beneficial. In addition to the distracting sounds there is also therapeutic support,” says Michael Piskosz. “ReSound Relief includes relaxation exercises and techniques for dealing with the tension and stress that tinnitus can cause. If you are extremely affected by tinnitus, the app alone will not be enough but it is a very useful tool and a great first step for people seeking help with tinnitus.”

This strategy is supported by a study by Professor Ture Andersen from Odense University Hospital.  “Unfortunately, the more emotionally you react to your tinnitus, the more the tinnitus signals will pass through the hearing center in your brain. If you respond by getting irritated or with stress or anxiety, it can actually make you more aware of the tinnitus sounds. You may end up getting into a “vicious cycle” where your tinnitus ends up controlling you. It’s important to learn how to avoid this. One way is by training  yourself not to respond to the tinnitus sounds. This way, the brain will filter out the noise signals to a large extent before reaching the hearing center. Then you’ll only hear a weak sound in the background, a light soundscape that makes it less distracting.” The study also shows that music can help. The volume of the music should not be particularly high – it’s not about covering up the sound of tinnitus with a louder sound – but about focusing your attention on the music and away the tinnitus.

“In some cases, when you use audio therapy to get relief from your tinnitus, the focus on it can increase,” explains Michael Piskosz. “Many people believe that this is due to the introduction of the technology to help with the tinnitus. Often times, people monitor their tinnitus more, to see if the technology is helping. It’s similar to when someone gets a new pair of shoes. At first, they are very aware of the shoes, and getting used to the fit. But, with time, they adjust and acclimate. Typically, users will find that the focus on tinnitus will be reduced over-time by using an app like ReSound Relief.”

More information about ReSound apps, please click here.  

New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss seems like one of the great equalizers of old age, striking people of all kinds as their ears gradually lose the ability to pick out sounds or hear certain pitches.

But a new national study reveals major gaps in whether Americans over age 55 get help for their hearing loss—gaps that vary greatly by age, race, education, and income, according to an article published on the Michigan Medicine website.

In all, just over a third of older adults who say they have hearing loss are using a hearing aid to correct it, the study finds. But those who are non-Hispanic white, college educated, or have incomes in the top 25% were about twice as likely as those of other races, education levels, or income ranges to have a hearing aid.

The cost of hearing aids is most to blame, say the researchers from the University of Michigan who published the study in The Gerontologist. They presented it this week at the annual research meeting of the AcademyHealth professional society for health care researchers.

Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars out of a patient’s pocket because most health insurance programs, including Medicare, don’t cover them.

In fact, the study finds that the only factor that leveled the playing field for hearing aid use was having insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which covers hearing aids in many cases. Hearing-impaired veterans ages 55 to 64 were more than twice as likely as their nonveteran peers to use a hearing aid, even after the researchers corrected for other differences. The gap between veterans and nonveterans was also significant for those over 65.

But the detailed interviews conducted for the study also show that personal concerns about hearing aid use, and lack of engagement with health providers, play a role.

“Hearing aids are not easy for many to obtain due to their costs,” says Michael McKee, MD, MPH, the U-M family medicine physician and assistant professor who led the analysis.

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

“However, there are a number of additional issues that place at-risk groups at an even larger disadvantage to achieving good hearing health. Many of these issues are beyond the financial aspects, including racial/ethnicity and sociocultural elements, for instance stigma and vanity.”

National survey and local interviews

McKee, who uses a cochlear implant to overcome his own hearing loss, worked on the study with Helen Levy, PhD, a health economist and professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research, and other colleagues. The authors are members of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

They used survey data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study, which is based on interviews conducted by the Institute for Social Research with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The analysis included data from more than 35,500 people nationwide over age 55 who said they had hearing loss. In addition, McKee and colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 21 other older adults with hearing loss in the communities surrounding the university.

The authors conclude that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servicesshould consider covering hearing aids for Medicare participants and those in Medicaid plans for lower-income adults of any age. Some state Medicaid plans do cover hearing aids, but it is not required.

“Many people may not realize that Medicare does not cover hearing aids,” says Levy. “But it doesn’t, so cost can be a significant obstacle preventing older adults with hearing loss from getting the help that they need.”

More findings from the study:

  • The percentage of older adults with hearing loss who used a hearing aid rose with age, from about 15% of those in their late 50’s to more than 57% of those in their late 80s.
  • Forty percent of non-Hispanic white adults with hearing loss used a hearing aid, compared with 18.4% of non-Hispanic black and 21.1% of Hispanic adults with hearing loss.
  • Nearly 46% of hearing-impaired older adults who had gone to college reported that they used a hearing aid, compared with just under 29% of those who hadn’t graduated from high school.
  • Nearly half of those with incomes in the top 25% wore a hearing aid, compared with about one-quarter of those in the bottom 25%.
  • There were no significant differences in hearing aid use based on the size of the community where the person lived, nor their level of health literacy as measured on a standard test.
  • Interviews showed that cost, lack of insurance coverage (or knowledge about insurance coverage), vanity, and stigma were common reasons for not using hearing aids. Participants also cited a lack of attention to hearing loss by their primary care provider and worries about finding an audiologist they could trust.
  • Many interview participants who used a hearing aid mentioned efforts that hearing-related professionals made to connect them to discounts and insurance programs.

More about hearing loss

Estimates of hearing loss incidence place it at 29% of people in their 50s, 45% of those in their 60s, 68% of those in their 70s, and 89% of those in their 80s.

Previous studies have shown that untreated hearing loss reduces older adults’ ability to carry out everyday tasks, reduces their quality of life, and is linked to social isolation, lower income, reduced cognitive function, and poorer physical and psychological health.

A recent study led by McKee’s colleague Elham Mahmoudi, PhD, found that having a hearing aid was associated with a lower chance of being hospitalized or visiting an emergency room in the past year. That study focused on people over 65 who had severe hearing loss, and it used data from a federal database.

McKee leads the Health Info Lab, which is researching health information use and literacy among deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

This article is copyrighted by the University of Michigan and used with permission.

Original Paper: McKee MM, Choi H, Wilson S, DeJonckheere MJ, Zazove P, Levy H. Determinants of hearing aid use among older Americans with hearing loss. The Gerontologist. 2018. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/geront/gny051/5000029?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Source: Michigan Medicine/University of Michigan, The Gerontologist

Image: University of Michigan

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Earwax removal in Chippenham

Earwax removal in Chippenham

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GN Hearing Launches Rechargeable Battery Option for ReSound Linx 3D

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GN Hearing—the medical device division of the GN Group—has introduced a rechargeable battery option for the ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, the company announced. The rechargeable battery solution, available in North America and other major markets from September 1, gives ReSound users more options to choose from. The rechargeable option is also available for Beltone Trust in North America, and from September 1, this will be extended to other major markets.

The rechargeable battery option is made available based on an understanding of user expectations as well as a commitment to empower users to choose the solution best suited for their needs and preferences. The announcement follows GN Hearing’s release of the innovative 5thgeneration 2.4 GHz wireless technology ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, which offer unmatched sound quality, an enhanced fitting experience, and comprehensive remote fine-turning, giving users a new hearing care experience, GN Hearing said.

According to the company, ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable has all of the benefits of ReSound LiNX 3D, now combined with the all-day power of a rechargeable battery. With overnight charging, users will experience the advantage of all-day power, without the need to change batteries.

ReSound Linx 3D rechargeable accessory.

ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable accessory.

“GN Hearing is pleased to provide yet another option for hearing aid users, built on our commitment to providing unmatched sound quality and user experience,” said Anders Hedegaard, president & CEO, GN Hearing. “This new rechargeable battery solution allows hearing care professionals to offer an additional option to their clients, and gives hearing aids users even more choices to tailor their hearing experience to their unique preferences,” he added.

Source: GN Hearing 

Image: GN Hearing 

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Earwax removal, Wiltshire

Earwax removal, Wiltshire

If you are not as close to Keynsham as to Devizes we would recommend our sister company

Wiltshire ear clinic 

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If you are in need of earwax removal then look no further than Stephen Neal the earwax removal specialist. Based at his Keynsham practice he covers from Bath & Bristol, to further afield such as Chippenham, Corsham, Devizes and beyond. For the very latest gentle Microsuction technique to the traditional water irrigation, Stephen Neal can help you keep your ears clear from ear wax.  https://stephenneal.co.uk/microsuction-wax-removal/

Along with earwax removal Stephen Neal is a fully qualified top audiologist and dispenses the very latest digital hearing aids that will work with all types of mobile phones including the iPhone X.

 

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Researchers Identify New Type of Vertigo, According to Study Published in ‘Neurology’

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Neurologists have identified a new type of vertigo with no known cause, according to a study published in the May 23, 2018 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology(AAN), the AAN announced on its website.

With vertigo, people have episodes of dizziness that can last from minutes to days. Vertigo can be caused by serious conditions, such as tumors, or conditions that are fairly benign, such the inner ear disorder Meniere’s disease. But for some people, no cause can be found.

In this new study, neurologists have identified a new type of vertigo where treatment may be effective.

“These conditions can be difficult to diagnose and quite debilitating for people, so it’s exciting to be able to discover this new diagnosis of a condition that may respond to treatment,” said study author Ji-Soo Kim, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University in Seongnam, South Korea.

To diagnose this new condition, the person sits in a dark room and the examiner moves the patient’s head forward and then the head is shaken horizontally for about 15 seconds. Then the patient opens his or her eyes and a video recording is taken of eye movements. The neurologists discovered that after the test, people with this new condition had eye movements called nystagmus that lasted longer than for other people. The new condition is called recurrent spontaneous vertigo with head-shaking nystagmus.

Among 338 people with vertigo with no known cause, 35 had this new condition and were included in the study. The participants had attacks of vertigo ranging from two or three times a week to once a year. They also experienced nausea or vomiting, headaches, and intolerance of head motions during the attacks.

The participants were compared to 35 people with other conditions that can cause vertigo, such Meniere’s disease, vestibular migraine, and vestibular neuritis. The test measured the time constant, or the time that represents the speed with which the reflexive eye movements can respond to change. For those with the new condition, the time constant during the primary phase of the nystagmus was 12 seconds, while it was six seconds for those with Meniere’s disease and five seconds for those with vestibular neuritis and vestibular migraine.

The neurologists also found that people with the new type of vertigo were more likely to have severe motion sickness than those with other types of vertigo.

A total of 20 of the 35 people with the new type of vertigo who had frequent attacks and severe symptoms were given preventive medication. About one-third of those had partial or complete recovery with the new medication. During the long-term follow-up of an average of 12 years after the first symptoms for 31 participants, five reported no more attacks, 14 said their symptoms had improved, and only one said symptoms had gotten worse.

Kim said that people with this condition may have a hyperactive mechanism in their vestibular system that helps the brain respond to movement of the body and in the environment.

“It’s possible that the vertigo occurs when this unstable mechanism is disrupted by factors either within the person’s body or in their environment,” Kim said.

The study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea. Learn more about the brain at www.BrainandLife.org, the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine and website focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

The American Academy of Neurology is said to be the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and YouTube.

Original Paper: Lee S-U, Jeong-Yoon C, Hyo-Jung K, Ji-Soo, K. Recurrent spontaneous vertigo with interictal headshaking nystagmus. Neurology. 2018. Available at: http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2018/05/23/WNL.0000000000005689

Source: AAN, Neurology 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brainwave Abnormality Could Be Common to Parkinson’s Disease, Tinnitus, Depression

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A brainwave abnormality could be a common link between Parkinson’s disease, neuropathic pain, tinnitus, and depression—a link that authors of a new study suggest could lead to treatment for all four conditions.

Dr Sven Vanneste, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas, is one of three authors of a paper in the journal Nature Communications regarding thalamocortical dysrhythmia (TCD), a theory that ties a disruption of brainwave activity to the symptoms of a wide range of neurological disorders, The University of Texas announced.

Dr Sven Vanneste, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Dr Sven Vanneste, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Vanneste and his colleagues—Dr Jae-Jin Song of South Korea’s Seoul National University and Dr Dirk De Ridder of New Zealand’s University of Otago—analyzed electroencephalograph (EEG) and functional brain mapping data from more than 500 people to create what Vanneste believes is the largest experimental evaluation of TCD, which was first proposed in a paper published in 1996.

“We fed all the data into the computer model, which picked up the brain signals that TCD says would predict if someone has a particular disorder,” Vanneste said. “Not only did the program provide the results TCD predicted, we also added a spatial feature to it. Depending on the disease, different areas of the brain become involved.”

The strength of our paper is that we have a large enough data sample to show that TCD could be an explanation for several neurological diseases.

Brainwaves are the rapid-fire rhythmic fluctuations of electric voltage between parts of the brain. The defining characteristics of TCD begin with a drop in brainwave frequency—from alpha waves to theta waves when the subject is at rest—in the thalamus, one of two regions of the brain that relays sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex, which then processes those impulses as touch, pain, or temperature.

A key property of alpha waves is to induce thalamic lateral inhibition, which means that specific neurons can quiet the activity of adjacent neurons. Slower theta waves lack this muting effect, leaving neighboring cells able to be more active. This activity level creates the characteristic abnormal rhythm of TCD.

“Because you have less input, the area surrounding these neurons becomes a halo of gamma hyperactivity that projects to the cortex, which is what we pick up in the brain mapping,” Vanneste said.

While the signature alpha reduction to theta is present in each disorder examined in the study—Parkinson’s, pain, tinnitus, and depression—the location of the anomaly indicates which disorder is occurring.

“If it’s in the auditory cortex, it’s going to be tinnitus; if it’s in the somatosensory cortex, it will be pain,” Vanneste explained. “If it’s in the motor cortex, it could be Parkinson’s; if it’s in deeper layers, it could be depression. In each case, the data show the exact same wavelength variation—that’s what these pathologies have in common. You always see the same pattern.”

EEG data from 541 subjects was used. About half were healthy control subjects, while the remainder were patients with tinnitus, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, or major depression. The scale and diversity of this study’s data set are what set it apart from prior research efforts.

“Over the past 20 years, there have been pain researchers observing a pattern for pain, or tinnitus researchers doing the same for tinnitus,” Vanneste said. “But no one combined the different disorders to say, ‘What’s the difference between these diseases in terms of brainwaves, and what do they have in common?’ The strength of our paper is that we have a large enough data sample to show that TCD could be an explanation for several neurological diseases.”

With these results in hand, the next step could be a treatment study based on vagus nerve stimulation—a therapy being pioneered by Vanneste and his colleagues at the Texas Biomedical Device Center at UT Dallas. A different follow-up study will examine a new range of psychiatric diseases to see if they could also be tied to TCD.

For now, Vanneste is glad to see this decades-old idea coming into focus.

“More and more people agree that something like thalamocortical dysrhythmia exists,” he said. “From here, we hope to stimulate specific brain areas involved in these diseases at alpha frequencies to normalize the brainwaves again. We have a rationale that we believe will make this type of therapy work.”

The research was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF) and the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.

Original Paper: Vanneste S, Song J-J, De Ridder D. Thalamocortical dysrhythmia detected by machine learning. Nature Communications. 2018;9(1103)

Source: Nature Communications, University of Texas at Dallas

Image: University of Texas at Dallas

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Salt- or Sugar-Based Solution May Diminish Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

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It’s well known that exposure to extremely loud noises—whether it’s an explosion, a firecracker, or even a concert — can lead to permanent hearing loss. But knowing how to treat noise-induced hearing loss, which affects about 15% of Americans, has largely remained a mystery. That may eventually change, thanks to new research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, which sheds light on how noise-induced hearing loss happens and shows how a simple injection of a salt- or sugar-based solution into the middle ear may preserve hearing, the school announced on its website.  The results of the study were published in PNAS.

Deafening sound

To develop a treatment for noise-induced hearing loss, the researchers first had to understand its mechanisms. They built a tool using novel miniature optics to image inside the cochlea, the hearing portion of the inner ear, and exposed mice to a loud noise similar to that of a roadside bomb.

They discovered that two things happen after exposure to a loud noise: sensory hair cells, which are the cells that detect sound and convert it to neural signals, die, and the inner ear fills with excess fluid, leading to the death of neurons.

“That buildup of fluid pressure in the inner ear is something you might notice if you go to a loud concert,” said the study’s corresponding author John Oghalai, MD, chair and professor of the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and holder of the Leon J. Tiber and David S. Alpert Chair in Medicine. “When you leave the concert, your ears might feel full and you might have ringing in your ears. We were able to see that this buildup of fluid correlates with neuron loss.”

John Oghalai, MD

John Oghalai, MD

Both neurons and sensory hair cells play critical roles in hearing.

“The death of sensory hair cells leads to hearing loss. But even if some sensory hair cells remain and still work, if they’re not connected to a neuron, then the brain won’t hear the sound,” Oghalai says.

The researchers found that sensory hair cell death occurred immediately after exposure to loud noise and was irreversible. Neuron damage, however, had a delayed onset, opening a window of opportunity for treatment.

A simple solution

The buildup of fluid in the inner ear occurred over a period of a few hours after loud noise exposure and contained high concentrations of potassium. To reverse the effects of the potassium and reduce the fluid buildup, salt- and sugar-based solutions were injected into the middle ear, just through the eardrum, three hours after noise exposure. The researchers found that treatment with these solutions prevented 45–64% of neuron loss, suggesting that the treatment may offer a way to preserve hearing function.

The treatment could have several potential applications, Oghalai explained.

“I can envision soldiers carrying a small bottle of this solution with them and using it to prevent hearing damage after exposure to blast pressure from a roadside bomb,” he said. “It might also have potential as a treatment for other diseases of the inner ear that are associated with fluid buildup, such as Meniere’s disease.”

Oghalai and his team plan to conduct further research on the exact sequence of steps between fluid buildup in the inner ear and neuron death, followed by clinical trials of their potential treatment for noise-induced hearing loss.

Original Paper: Kim J, Xia A, Grillet N, Applegate BE, Oghalai JS. Osmotic stabilization prevents cochlear synaptopathy after blast trauma. PNAS. 2018. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/05/01/1720121115.short?rss=1

Source: Keck School of Medicine of USC, PNAS

Image: Keck School of Medicine of USC

Researchers Find Increased Risk of Hearing Loss Among Smokers

Researchers Find Increased Risk of Hearing Loss Among Smokers

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New research published in Nicotine & Tobacco Researchhas shown evidence that smoking is associated with hearing loss, according to a news release from the journal’s publisher, Oxford Press.

The study—which included 50,000 participants over an 8-year period—looked at data from annual health checkups, which included factors such as smoking status, number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the duration of smoking cessation on hearing loss, according to the release. Researchers calculated a 1.2 to 1.6 increased risk of hearing loss among smokers as compared to those who had never smoked before.

The risk of hearing loss decreased five years after smoking cessation.

For additional information, please click here to view the release on Science Daily’s website.

Original Paper: Hu H, Sasaki N, Ogasawara T, et al. Smoking, smoking cessation, and the risk of hearing loss: Japan epidemiology collaboration on occupational health study. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. March 14, 2018.

Source: Science Daily, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Oxford Press

Which hearing aids are best for me?

Which hearing aids are best for me?

Bristol and Bath hearing aid centre, Stephen Neal is the hearing and earwax specialist for Somerset and Wiltshire.

You’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and the hearing healthcare professional says you’ll benefit from wearing hearing aids, but which devices are best for you? The decision you make will depend greatly on the severity of your hearing loss as well as your health and the lifestyle you lead. Before you sit down to discuss options with your hearing healthcare provider, here are a few things to consider.

Are you a technology buff?

best hearing aids for me

Stephen Neal, hearing aid and wax removal specialist. Frome, Somerset.

Your hearing aids should be as individual
as you are!

Hearing aids have changed a lot in the last ten years. Today’s devices are nothing like those your parents or grandparents may have worn, mainly because of advances in technology. While your parents’ hearing aids had to be adjusted with a tiny screwdriver by a hearing care provider, today’s digital devices are programmed via computer. Gone are the days of fiddling around with bulky volume control wheels and buttons. Most of today’s devices can be controlled discreetly by the wearer with smartphone apps as listening environments change. Bluetooth technology allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to that smartphone you bought the moment it became available, tablets, televisions or car audio.

How much of a techie are you? Chances are, there’s a hearing aid that can keep up with your fascination for cutting edge gadgets. If you’re not a technology lover, don’t despair – the technology in your new hearing aids can also work behind the scenes automatically so you can just focus on hearing your best.

Is your world noisy?

Let’s face it — life can be loud! Depending upon what you do for a living and how often you’re socially engaged with people you love spending time with, directional microphone technology can help you make sense of that noise. Dual microphones in the hearing aid work to help you understand speech in challenging listening environments such as noisy conventions, crowded restaurants and bars or a family room filled with chattering children by focusing on the sound directly in front of you and minimizing sound to the sides and back.

Nearly all hearing aids today have some form of noise reduction built in. This technology is best for increasing your comfort in noisy situations, but it’s the directional microphones that have a noticeable impact on your ability to understand conversation in these same situations. Be honest about your lifestyle and talk with your hearing care provider about which features you need.

Are you self-conscious about your hearing loss?

Let’s be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing hearing aids — no matter whether they’re visible to others standing close to you or fit snugly out of sight inside your ear canal. These miracle devices not only help you hear your favorite sounds, they also alert you to emergency warning signals and decrease your risk of falling, developing dementia and feeling depressed. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, some prefer to be more discreet about their hearing loss. For those individuals, tiny receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles with ultra-thin tubing and an availability of colors which blend with skin or hair may be desirable. For even more invisibility, invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles may be an option.

The discretion of small hearing aids can come with some tradeoffs. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you decide, given the severity of your hearing loss and your personal preferences, which style is best for you.

Do you have dexterity issues?

Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions can cause numbness in the fingers or a decline in fine motor skills. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the features — such as the battery door or volume control. If you struggle with putting on jewelry or activities which require fine motor skills, you will likely benefit from wearing hearing aids that fit behind-the-ear (BTE) or a larger custom style. It’s much better to own devices you can operate confidently and effectively than one which frustrates you so much it spends more time in your nightstand than in your ear.

Summary

It’s important to remember that no two people or their hearing losses are alike, but there are hearing aids to suit most every need. The best hearing aids are the ones that work for you. Instead of waiting to make a decision because you’re afraid you’ll make the wrong one, find a hearing healthcare professional to guide you. Working as a team, the two of you can determine which devices will work for your unique hearing situation. Check out our directory of consumer-reviewed clinics to get started.

GN Hearing Launches Rechargeable Battery Option for ReSound Linx 3D

Stephen Neal the earwax specialist for Bath, Bristol and the Somerset area.

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GN Hearing—the medical device division of the GN Group—has introduced a rechargeable battery option for the ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, the company announced. The rechargeable battery solution, available in North America and other major markets from September 1, gives ReSound users more options to choose from. The rechargeable option is also available for Beltone Trust in North America, and from September 1, this will be extended to other major markets.

The rechargeable battery option is made available based on an understanding of user expectations as well as a commitment to empower users to choose the solution best suited for their needs and preferences. The announcement follows GN Hearing’s release of the innovative 5thgeneration 2.4 GHz wireless technology ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, which offer unmatched sound quality, an enhanced fitting experience, and comprehensive remote fine-turning, giving users a new hearing care experience, GN Hearing said.

According to the company, ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable has all of the benefits of ReSound LiNX 3D, now combined with the all-day power of a rechargeable battery. With overnight charging, users will experience the advantage of all-day power, without the need to change batteries.

ReSound Linx 3D rechargeable accessory.

ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable accessory.

“GN Hearing is pleased to provide yet another option for hearing aid users, built on our commitment to providing unmatched sound quality and user experience,” said Anders Hedegaard, president & CEO, GN Hearing. “This new rechargeable battery solution allows hearing care professionals to offer an additional option to their clients, and gives hearing aids users even more choices to tailor their hearing experience to their unique preferences,” he added.

Source: GN Hearing 

Image: GN Hearing