Hearing Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Hear” by Jaya Ramchandani is licensed under CC BY 2.0David G. Loughrey, BA(Hons)

NEIL (Neuro Enhancement for Independent Lives) Programme
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Age-related hearing loss, a common chronic condition among older adults, has emerged in the literature as a potential modifiable risk factor for dementia. This is of interest as current pharmacological therapies for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease only offer symptom-modifying effects. Treatment of risk factors such as hearing loss may help delay the onset of dementia and may provide an alternate therapeutic strategy. However, there is variance in the research on hearing loss and cognition with some studies reporting a small or non-significant association. In this meta-analysis, we investigated this association and we only included observational studies that used standard assessments of cognitive function and pure-tone audiometry (the clinical standard).

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Nearly 20% of Children May Not Have Normal Hearing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Carlijn M. P. le Clercq, MD Speech and Language Pathology, Pediatrics, Otolaryngology Erasmus MC , Rotterdam 

Dr. Carlijn M. P. le Clercq

Dr. Carlijn M. P. le Clercq, MD
Speech and Language Pathology, Pediatrics, Otolaryngology
Erasmus MC , Rotterdam

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been increasing interest for acquired hearing loss among children, and concerns about its prevalence possibly rising over time. One of the questions that come up, is whether there is an association with the growing use of portable music players with headphones, including smartphones and tablets. There have been few longitudinal studies to explore this relation.

In order to examine this relation, among other factors, we have conducted a formal hearing screening among more than 5000 9- to 11-year-old children from a population-based birth cohort in the Netherlands.

Our study showed that nearly one in five children did not have normal hearing. Of the cohort, 7.8% of the children showed signs of permanent hearing loss.

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Cochlear Bridges the Technology Gap with First Made for iPhone Cochlear Implant Sound Processor

MedicalResearch.com Interview Provided on behalf of:
Jan Janssen, Senior Vice President Research and Development Cochlear LimitedJan Janssen, Senior Vice President

Research and Development
Cochlear Limited

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this device?

Response: Cochlear implants treat hearing loss by electrical stimulation of the hearing nerve, bypassing the damaged parts of the hearing pathway. Cochlear implants system consist out of an external sound processor that detects and processes the sounds and then sends them to the implant. The implant receives this information and turns it into electrical signals that are delivered to the hearing nerve and from there to the brain.

The Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor is the world’s first and only Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor, allowing users to stream sound from their iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® directly to their cochlear implant sound processor. It not only enhances the experience of talking on the phone, it also makes features like enjoying music or watching videos, as well as audio apps such as Maps or FaceTime, more easily accessible.

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is also the smallest and lightest behind-the-ear sound processor on the market.

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How Well Do Personal Sound Amplifiers Compare To Conventional Hearing Aides?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD Instructor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery PhD Candidate  | Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation Center on Aging and Health Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Nicholas Reed

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD
Instructor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery
PhD Candidate  | Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation
Center on Aging and Health
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hearing Aids are medical devices regulated by the FDA which must be purchased through a licensed individual while personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are essentially unregulated devices some of which can manipulate and increase sound similar to a hearing aid but cannot market themselves are devices for hearing loss. PSAPs can be purchased online or in the back of a store and are generally less expensive than hearing aids.

We aimed to explore a select group of PSAPs to see if they helped someone with mild to moderate hearing loss improve speech understanding (i.e. ability to repeat back sentences) in the presence of mild background noise (think a lunch crowd at a restaurant) as well as a hearing aid. We selected four PSAP devices that were technologically strong (i.e. meet many standards a hearing aid might be asked to meet) and one PSAP that was technologically fairly poor (i.e. lots of sound distortion) after an in-house electroacoustic analysis of devices. Our hearing aid was selected because it was a popular choice at a university audiology clinic. Forty-two people completed the speech testing unaided (i.e. with no device) and then with each of the five PSAPs and one hearing aid (order of devices was randomized).

We looked at improvement with the devices from unaided. We found that some PSAPs help people understand speech about as well as a hearing aid in this controlled environment while one PSAP actually hindered participants’ ability to understand speech due to sound distortion – imagine how difficult it can be when listening on a poor cell phone signal.

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Mild-moderate congenital hearing loss: secular trends in outcomes across four systems of detection.

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Peter Carew Lead author, MCRI PhD student  Clinician

Peter Carew

Peter Carew
Lead author, MCRI PhD student
Clinician
The University of Melbourne

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The age at diagnosis of a congenital hearing loss has dropped over time. This has allowed for earlier fitting of amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implants) and earlier access to education intervention programs, all intended to lessen the impact of hearing loss on development. Much research has focused on the outcomes achieved by children with severe and profound losses, but relatively little attention has been given to milder hearing losses (mild and moderate). Despite this lack of evidence, we are observing children with mild loss being fitted with hearing aids earlier than ever before. From a historical age of fitting not uncommonly at 2 years of age or older, today the largest number of children under 12 months who receive a hearing aid for the first time in Australia have a mild hearing loss in their better hearing ear. To this end, clinical practice may have jumped ahead of the evidence in terms of understanding any benefits children with mild hearing loss receive from having hearing aids earlier.

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Volunteers Plus Free Hearing Aids Can Supply Adequate Auditory Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aileen Wertz, MD

Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
University of Michigan 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The key finding of this study is: free, comprehensive audiologic care, including hearing aids and fitting, is feasible within a well-established free clinic model.

We found that donated hearing aids and volunteer health care providers were able to run the clinic and that 20 patients have thus far been fit with hearing aids.

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Late Menopause and Oral Hormone Therapy Linked To High Risk of Hearing Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM Channing Division of Network Medicine Department of Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115

Dr. Curhan

Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM
Channing Division of Network Medicine
Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans and the number is expected to increase as the population ages. Some previous studies suggested that menopause may increase the risk for hearing loss, presumably due to the reduction in circulating estrogen levels, and that postmenopausal hormone therapy might slow hearing decline by “replacing” estrogen. To evaluate the role of menopause and postmenopausal hormone therapy as risk factors for hearing loss, we examined the independent associations between menopausal status, oral hormone therapy, and risk of self-reported hearing loss in 80,972 women who are participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, aged 27-44 years at baseline, and were followed from 1991 to 2013.

After more than 1.4 million person-years of follow-up, 18,558 cases of hearing loss were reported (~23% of the women developed hearing loss). We did not observe an overall independent association between menopausal status and risk of hearing loss.

However, the risk among women who underwent natural menopause at an older age was higher. Specifically, the risk among women who underwent natural menopause at age 50 or older was 10% higher than among those who underwent natural menopause before age 50 [multivariable-adjusted relative risk (MVRR): 1.10, 95% CI 1.03, 1.17]. When we conducted an analysis restricted to women who underwent natural menopause and did not use hormone therapy (HT), the multivariable-adjusted relative risk among women who underwent natural menopause at age 50-54 years was 21% higher (MVRR: 1.12, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.34), and among women who underwent natural menopause at age 55+ years was 29% higher (MVRR: 1.29, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.50), compared with women who underwent natural menopause before age 50.

Among postmenopausal women, we also found that use of oral HT was associated with higher risk of hearing loss, and the magnitude of the risk tended to increase with longer duration of use (p-trend < 0.001). Compared with women who never used any type of HT, the MVRR of hearing loss among women who used oral HT for 5-9.9 years was 15% higher (MVRR: 1.15, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.24), and for 10+ years was 21% higher (MVRR: 1.21, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.37). When specific types of oral HT were examined, longer duration of use of either oral estrogen-only or of combined estrogen plus progestogen HT were each associated with higher risk. Fewer women reported use of progestogen-only oral HT, yet among these women a higher risk was suggested, but not significant (MVRR: 1.15, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.35). Transdermal HT use was less common, but the associations observed were similar to those with oral hormone therapy. When examined separately by type of menopause, the results for HT use were similar.

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Novel Viral Vector Allows Gene Transfer To Correct Hearing Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lukas Landegger MD Molecular Neurotology Laboratory (PI Konstantina Stankovic) Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Dr. Landegger

Lukas Landegger MD
Molecular Neurotology Laboratory (PI Konstantina Stankovic)
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Genetic hearing loss affects more than 125 million people worldwide and constitutes a major hurdle for language acquisition and child development in general. Technological advances over the last decades, such as cochlear implants, have made it possible for deaf children to partially regain their sense of hearing. However, these devices still have several shortcomings, especially when listeners attempt to understand speech in noise or listen to music.

In establishing Anc80L65 as a reliable vector for gene delivery in the inner ear and releasing the first data demonstrating convincing hearing and vestibular function rescue in mice, we provide a foundation for other researchers interested in assessing the benefits of gene therapy in animal models of human disease.

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Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Had Similar Outcomes to More Expensive Devices

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Larry Humes, PhD, CCC-A Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. Larry Humes

Larry Humes, PhD, CCC-A
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Indiana University Bloomington

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: About 40% of adults over the age of 60 have significant hearing loss, yet only about 20% of these older Americans seek help and eventually purchase hearing aids.  There have been several national calls for improvements in the accessibility and affordability of hearing health care for adults, especially older adults, including a 2015 report by the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology and a 2016 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.  One strategy in common to both of these recent reports is to make hearing aids available directly to the consumer via over-the-counter service delivery.

This study was a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial investigating two different service-delivery approaches, best-practices and over-the-counter, and two different purchase prices for the hearing aids ($600/pair, $3600/pair).  For the most part, purchase price had no influence on outcomes.  Hearing aids delivered via the best-practices service-delivery model were confirmed to be efficacious, but almost identical positive outcomes were obtained via the over-the-counter service-delivery approach.

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Number of Adults With Hearing Loss Expected To Rise Dramatically

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Adele Gorman PhD
Johns Hopkins Center on Aging & Health
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hearing loss affects many people, especially older adults. We have previously estimated how common hearing loss is across different age groups and how many adults have hearing loss today. However, we did not know the number of people that are expected to have hearing loss in the coming decades. This is important to know in order to appropriately plan for future hearing health care needs. Recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine highlighted the crucial need to address hearing loss and made recommendations to improve hearing health care services. However, these recommendations should be considered by policy makers in the context of the number of adults with hearing loss in the coming years.

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Gene Therapy Restores Hearing Down To A Whisper, in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gwenaelle Geleoc, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Otolaryngology F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA

Dr. Gwenaelle Geleoc

Gwenaelle Geleoc, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Otolaryngology
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center
Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We seek to develop gene therapy to restore auditory and balance function in a mouse model of Usher syndrome. Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which causes deafness, progressive blindness and in some cases balance deficits. We used a novel viral vector developed by Luk Vandenberghe and package gene sequences encoding for Ush1c and applied it to young mice suffering from Usher syndrome. These mice mimic a mutation found in patients of Acadian descent. We assessed recovery of hearing and balance function in young adult mice which had received the treatment. Otherwise deaf and dizzy, we found that the treated mice had recovered hearing down to soft sounds equivalent to a whisper and normal balance function.

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Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked to Hearing Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kathleen Schieffer, BS, PhD Candidate
Biomedical Sciences and Clinical and Translational Science
Clinical and Translational Science Fellow
Hershey, PA 17033

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hearing loss is common in the United States, with its prevalence increasing with each decade of life. Iron deficiency anemia is a common, reversible condition, associated with negative health outcomes. The inner ear is highly sensitive to ischemic damage and previous animal studies have shown that iron deficiency anemia alters the inner ear physiology. Understanding the association between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss may open new possibilities for treatment.

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Hearing Loss Linked To Increased Depression and Dementia Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Frank-Lin.jpg

Dr. Lin

Frank Robert Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Head and Neck Surgery
Johns Hopkins Medicine

MedicalResearch.com Editor’s note: Dr. Lin discussed his research during Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium, which brought together international experts from the audiology community.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there a link between hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia?

Response: In the last few years, we have investigated the link between hearing loss and dementia in large studies of older adults who have been followed for many years. In these studies, we and others have found that those with greater hearing loss have a higher risk of developing dementia even after we account for factors like age, education, medical comorbidities, etc. We think this is because there are some pathways through which hearing loss can directly affect our thinking and memory abilities

MedicalResearch.com: Is there an association between hearing loss and cognitive decline or premature death?

Response: There is a link between hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline. There is also external research that links hearing loss and premature death (Friburg 2014, Contrera 2015). Hearing loss can also increase a person’s chance of using medical and social services

MedicalResearch.com: How is hearing loss linked to increased social isolation and depression in the elderly?

Response: Older people with hearing loss are at a greater risk of social isolation due to their difficulty communicating with people. These individuals may be less likely to go out, particularly to settings where listening can be difficult (e.g., restaurants), and even if they do go out, they may feel isolated from the conversation and not able to engage with others.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should understand that we’re increasingly understanding that hearing loss can detrimentally impact our thinking and memory abilities, risk of dementia, and our ability to remain engaged with others. Ongoing research is now studying to what extent our current hearing loss therapies can reduce and mitigate these risks and promote healthy aging.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Readers should know that hearing loss is a growing public health issue. It has been estimated that by 2050 1.2 billion people will suffer from hearing loss, underscoring the need for us to address it and recognize the burden of hearing loss on wider health. To learn more visit,www.linresearch.org and www.nas.edu/hearing

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium October 2016

Disclosure:  Symposium supported by Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), together with Macquarie University and the Australian Hearing Hub

www.cochlear.com

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Aging Brains Less Able To Process Speech in Noisy Environments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samira Anderson, AuD., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences Faculty, Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences Faculty, Maryland Language Science Center Director, The Hearing Brain Lab www.hearingbrainlab.umd.edu University of Maryland – College Park

Dr. Samira Anderson

Samira Anderson, AuD., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Faculty, Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences
Faculty, Maryland Language Science Center
Director, The Hearing Brain Lab
www.hearingbrainlab.umd.edu
University of Maryland – College Park

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It is known that older adults ability to understand speech in background noise is enhanced by factors other than hearing. Older adults draw on cognitive resources to improve their understanding of what is said more so than do younger adults. Specifically, they can use the context of the conversation to fill in the gaps of what they might have missed due to background noise. They also benefit when the distracting noise or talker is speaking in a language that is unintelligible to them. So  someone who speaks English will understand the conversation better when the distracting talker is speaking a language other than English. If the background talker is speaking a different language, then that background talker is easier to ignore.

In this study we were motivated to find out what is happening in the brain when older and younger adults are listening to a story spoken in English and ignoring a background talker who is speaking either in English or in Dutch. We found that overall the neural responses of older adults were degraded by noise to a greater extent than in younger adults, despite that fact that they had normal hearing. However, the neural response in older adults improved when the background talker was speaking Dutch compared to English, and this same improvement was not seen in younger adults. The older adults also reported that it was easier for them to focus on the English talker when the background talker was speaking Dutch, but the young adults said it didn’t make any difference.

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Loud Noises at Work and Home Lead To High Prevalence of Tinnitus

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Harrison W. Lin, M.D. Assistant Professor Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery UC Irvine Medical Center Orange, CA 92868

Dr. Harrison LIn

Harrison W. Lin, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
UC Irvine Medical Center
Orange, CA 92868

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We reviewed the data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, which is a project funded by the National Institutes of Health to supplement the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a household-based, personal interview survey administered by the US Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1957. The NHIS serves as the largest source of health information in the civilian population of the United States.

Analyzing the available data on tinnitus symptoms from this survey, we found that approximately 1 in 10 Americans have chronic tinnitus. Moreover, durations of occupational and leisure time noise exposures correlated with rates of tinnitus – people who reported higher rates of loud noise exposures at work and recreationally more frequently reported chronic tinnitus.

Finally, health care providers provided advice and treatment plans to patients with chronic tinnitus that were infrequently in line with the clinical practice guidelines published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Foundation.

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Intravaginal Device Can Detect Fetal Deafness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Álex García-Faura Scientific Director of the Institut Marquès Spain

Dr-Álex-García-Faura

Dr. Álex García-Faura
Scientific Director of the Institut Marquès
Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our clinical research during the last three years has been focused on the effects of music during the early stages of life; in our preliminary studies, applying music to pregnant patients using abdominal speakers, we discovered that there was no fetal reaction to music and that the fetus would only be able to hear it as a distorted whisper because of the effects of the abdominal wall. We thought that it would be necessary to get the music closer to the fetus, and we decided to try to apply the music vaginally. It was a great decision.

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Mining and Construction Workers Most Affected by Occupational Hearing Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elizabeth A. Masterson, PhD CPH
Dr. Masterson is an epidemiologist in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Masterson: Occupational hearing loss, primarily caused by high noise exposure, is the most common work-related illness in the United States. It is a permanent but entirely preventable condition. Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared the prevalence of hearing impairment within nine industry sectors and the associated impact on quality of life for noise-exposed workers.

Hearing impairment is hearing loss that impacts day-to-day activities. The Mining sector had the highest prevalence of workers with any hearing impairment, and with moderate or worse impairment, followed by the Construction and Manufacturing sectors. Impact on quality of life was measured by calculating disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). DALYs represented the number of healthy years lost because of hearing impairment. This study found that 2.5 healthy years were lost each year for every 1,000 noise-exposed U.S. workers because of hearing impairment. These lost years of good health were shared among the 13% of workers with hearing impairment (about 130 workers out of each 1,000 workers). Mining, Construction and Manufacturing workers lost more healthy years than workers in other industry sectors (3.5, 3.1 and 2.7 healthy years lost, respectively, each year for every 1,000 workers). Mild impairment accounted for 52% of all healthy years lost and moderate impairment accounted for 27%. 

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Screening for Hearing Impairment: A critical issue in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Amir-Emamifar

Dr. Emamifar

Dr. Amir Emamifar, MD
Department of Rheumatology
Odense university Hospital
Svendborg Hospital, Denmark

Associate Professor Inger Marie Jensen Hansen, PhD, DMsci Department of Rheumatology, Odense university Hospital, Svendborg Hospital, Denmark. University of Southern Denmark.

Dr. Hansen

 

Associate Professor
Dr. Inger Marie Jensen Hansen, PhD, DMsci

Department of Rheumatology
Odense university Hospital
Svendborg Hospital
University of Southern Denmark

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, inflammatory disease that affects 1% of the general population. Apart from main articular manifestations, rheumatoid arthritis may involve other organs including heart, lung, skin, and eye. The auditory system can be affected during the course of the disease as well; however the association between rheumatoid arthritis and hearing impairment has not been clearly defined. It seems that hearing impairment in rheumatoid arthritis is a multifactorial disease affecting by environmental factors and disease and patient characteristics. We did a comprehensive review of all published data to reveal the potential link between rheumatoid arthritis and hearing impairment.

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Earplugs Reduce Hearing Loss From Loud Concerts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. dr. Wilko Grolman MD, PhD Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wilko-grolman-73a4927

Prof. Grolman

Prof. dr. Wilko Grolman MD, PhD
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Brain Center Rudolf Magnus,
University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wilko-grolman-73a4927

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Grolman: The importance of healthy hearing is extremely important for us humans. Decline in hearing will potentially affect not only our functional status but also our emotional and social health but also our economic status. It is impossible to imagine what the impact of losing one’s hearing ability is while still having a healthy hearing. Although many of us will eventually suffer from reduced hearing as part of the physiological effect of getting older, scientists are alarmed by the fact that hearing loss is on the rise and especially the number of youngsters that are affected is increasing.

The WHO in their report of March 2015 reveal some alarming statistics; 360 million people have disabling hearing loss. In the acquired hearing loss group, excessive noise from personal audio devices and concert and festival visits has gained importance. Occupational noise has long been recognized as a source of acquired hearing loss. The WHO recognizes that half of the hearing loss cases can be prevented by primary prevention. For the noise induced hearing loss category, it is important to reduce exposure to loud sounds by raising awareness about the risks, implement relevant legislation and to encourage the use of personal protective devices such as earplugs, noise-canceling earphones and headphones. Our previous systematic review of the effectiveness of wearing earplugs to music venues showed that there were only two studies on this subject of which only one was a randomized clinical trial but had a major different set-up.

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Greater the Hearing Loss, Greater the Risk of Death

Kevin J. Contrera, MPH MD Candidate Johns Hopkins School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kevin J. Contrera, MPH
MD Candidate
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hearing impairment is common in older adults. The prevalence of clinically significant hearing loss doubles with every decade of life, affecting two-thirds of adults 70 years of age or older. Hearing loss has been shown to be associated with various negative cognitive, mental, and physical health outcomes.

In a nationally representative sample of 1,666 adults aged 70 years or older, moderate or greater hearing impairment was associated with a 54% increased risk of mortality. This was after we statistically took into account factors that could influence this association. Essentially, the worse the patient’s hearing loss, the greater the risk of death.

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Chronic Loud Noise Exposure Raises Risk of Heart Disease

Wenqi Gan, MD, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health University of Kentucky College of Public Health Lexington, KY 40536MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Wenqi Gan, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health
University of Kentucky College of Public Health
Lexington, KY 40536


Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Wenqi Gan: In epidemiologic studies on health effects of noise exposure, community noise is typically assessed using noise prediction models, occupational noise is assessed using self-reports or historical records. These methods are able to estimate community noise exposure in residential areas and occupational noise exposure in the workplace; however, these methods are not able to accurately reflect actual personal noise exposure in the home and workplace. The lack of personal noise exposure information is a major limitation of previous studies, which could cause underestimations of the true health effects of noise exposure. Bilateral high-frequency hearing loss, an objective indicator for long-term exposure to loud noise, may be used to investigate health effects of noise exposure.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Wenqi Gan: This study includes 5223 people aged 20-69 years who participated in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Compared with people with normal high-frequency hearing, people with bilateral high-frequency hearing loss were approximately two times more likely to have coronary heart disease. This association was particularly striking for people who were chronically exposed to loud noise in the workplace or leisure time. For example, for currently employed workers with occupational noise exposure history, the possibility of having coronary heart disease increased more than four times. This study confirms that chronic exposure to loud noise is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease.

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Osteoporosis May Increase Risk of Hearing Loss

Dr. Kai-Jen Tien MD Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan, TaiwanMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Kai-Jen Tien MD
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine
Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous studies investigating the relationship between osteoporosis and sudden sensorineural hearing loss were rare. Most of the studies were of small sample size, or cross-sectional designs and their results were inconclusive. Our population-based study found an approximately 1.76-fold increase in the incidence of sensorineural hearing loss for patients with osteoporosis compared with the comparison group.Patients with more severe osteoporosis may have a higher risk of SSNHL than patients with osteoporosis of milder severity.

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Cochlear Implants May Improve Cognition in Elderly Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Isabelle Mosnier, MD, Praticien Hospitalier ORL

Otologie, Implants Auditifs et Chirurgie de la Base du Crâne
Centre Référent Implant Cochléaire Adulte d’Ile de France
Centre Maladies Rares Surdité Génétique de l’adulte
et Neurofibromatose de type 2
Groupe Hospitalier de la PITIE-SALPETRIERE
Paris

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mosnier: Association between hearing impairment and cognitive decline has been established; however, the impact on cognition through cochlear implantation in profoundly deaf elderly patients is not known. The focus was to determine the impact of hearing rehabilitation including cochlear implant on cognitive functions, in addition to the influence of cognitive factors on cochlear implant outcomes over time.

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Cochlear Implants Work Equally Well In Younger and Older Patients

Margaret T. Dillon, AuD University of North Carolina School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Margaret T. Dillon, AuD

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Dillon: The goal of this study was to evaluate whether age at revision cochlear implantation influences post-revision speech perception performance. A cochlear implant is an implantable auditory prosthesis that aims to provide sound to patients with certain degrees of hearing loss, by converting and transmitting the acoustic sound into electric stimulation. Research has shown cochlear implant recipients experience improved speech perception in quiet and noise as compared to preoperative performance with conventional amplification (ie, hearing aids). There is variability in postoperative performance. Understanding the cause or causes of this variability is the primary goal of a number of research studies. One suspected indicator for this variability is advanced age at the time of surgery.

Though the incidence of revision cochlear implantation is low, it may be warranted when the internal device is no longer functional or not functioning optimally. We reviewed the pre-revision and post-revision speech perception performance of younger (< 65 years of age) and older (> 65 years of age) adult cochlear implant recipients. There was no difference between the post-revision speech perception performance between the two groups.

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HIV+ Adults May Have Poorer Hearing

dr-peter-torre Dr. Peter Torre III PhD Associate Professor, Audiology Director, Recreational Noise Exposure and Hearing Lab San Diego State UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Peter Torre III PhD
Associate Professor, Audiology
Director, Recreational Noise Exposure and Hearing Lab
San Diego State University


Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Torre: The primary purpose of our study was to evaluate hearing sensitivity in HIV+ and HIV- adults. And subsequently, in HIV+ adults only, to examine whether HIV disease variables or treatment was associated with hearing sensitivity.

The main findings were that HIV+ adult had poorer hearing for both the lower and higher frequencies compared with HIV- adults, although we did not find any significant associations between HIV variables and treatment variables with hearing loss.
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No Link Found Between Alcohol Use and Hearing Loss in Women

Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM Channing Division of Network Medicine Department of Internal Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM

Channing Division of Network Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Curhan: Hearing loss is a highly prevalent and disabling chronic condition that can impair communication, quality of life, and health. Although it is often perceived as an inevitable companion of aging, recent evidence suggests modifiable factors can potentially aid in prevention or slow progression of hearing loss. Alcohol consumption may influence several mechanisms that have been proposed to underlie age-related hearing decline. Although chronic excess alcohol intake has been associated with irreversible hearing loss and acute alcohol intake may temporarily impair auditory function, some evidence suggests that long-term moderate alcohol intake may protect against hearing loss.
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Eating Fish May Reduce Risk Of Hearing Loss In Women

Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM Channing Division of Network Medicine Department of Internal Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sharon G. Curhan, MD, ScM
Channing Division of Network Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Curhan: We followed more than 65,000 women who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II over 18 years and found that eating 2 or more servings of fish per week was associated with a lower risk of hearing loss. For example, after adjusting for potential confounders in multivariable analyses, in comparison with women who rarely or never ate fish, women who consumed 2 or more servings of fish per week had a 20% lower risk of hearing loss. Eating any type of fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk. Also, we found that higher intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was inversely associated with risk. For example, in comparison with women with the lowest intake, women with the highest intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs had a 22% lower risk of hearing loss.

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Early Deafness, Cochlear Implants Associated With Cognitive Delays in Children

William Kronenberger, Ph.D., HSPP Professor and Director, Section of Psychology Acting Vice Chair of Administration Department of Psychiatry Indiana University School of Medicine Riley Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ClinicMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
William Kronenberger, Ph.D., HSPP
Professor and Director, Section of Psychology
Acting Vice Chair of Administration
Department of Psychiatry
Indiana University School of Medicine
Riley Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Kronenberger: The main findings of the study are that children with cochlear implants had two to five times the risk of delays in executive functioning compared to children with normal hearing.  Executive functioning is the ability to regulate and control thinking and behavior in order to focus and achieve goals; it is important for everything from learning to social skills.  The areas of executive functioning that were most affected in children with cochlear implants were working memory, controlled attention, planning, and concept formation.  Approximately one-third to one-half of the sample of children with cochlear implants had at least mild delays in these areas, compared to one-sixth or fewer of the normal-hearing sample.  We think that reduced hearing experience and language delays cause delays in executive functioning to occur at higher rates in children with cochlear implants.
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Hearing Loss Contributes to Personality Changes in Elderly

Dr. Anne Ingeborg Berg: University of Gothenburg, SwedenMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Anne Ingeborg Berg:
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: In our study of personality change in individuals aged 80+ we found that over a 6 year period individuals did not change in emotional stability, however, in line with previous research they got less extravert or outgoing. The only health aspect that could be related to an accelerated change in extraversion was impaired hearing at the first measurement occasion.

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Depression and Hearing Impairment in Adults

Dr. Chuan-Ming Li MD, PhD Statistician (Health/Medicine) Division of Scientific Programs The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Chuan-Ming Li MD, PhD
Statistician (Health/Medicine)
Division of Scientific Programs
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Chuan-Ming Li: We used data on adults 18 years or older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the study and found that prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater hearing impairment (HI). Depression rates were higher in women than in men. The prevalence of depression increased as hearing impairment became worse, except among participants who were deaf. There was no association between self-reported HI and depression among people ages 70 years and older; however, an association between moderate HI measured by pure-tone threshold hearing exams and depression was found in women aged 70 years and older but not in men.
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Hearing Loss and Dietary Antioxidants

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/11/06/ajcn.113.068437.abstractMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sung Kyun Park, Sc.D., M.P.H

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology
Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?


Answer: This study reports that persons who eat more dietary antioxidants (beta carotene and vitamin C) or magnesium have a lower risk of hearing loss. This finding was seen in the levels currently observed in the general US population and independent of demographic and socioeconomic factors, noise exposures from workplaces, recreations or firearms, and other potential risk factors.
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Hearing Loss in Women: BMI, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sharon Curhan, MD, ScM
Channing Division of Network Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Curhan: The main findings of our study are that higher body mass index and larger waist circumference are associated with an increased risk of acquired hearing loss, and higher level of physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of acquired hearing loss in women. Specifically, after adjusting for potential confounders, compared with women with BMI <25 kg/m2, the relative risk for hearing loss was 25% higher for women with BMI >40. Compared with women with waist circumference <71 cm, the relative risk for hearing loss was 27% higher for women with waist circumference >88 cm. Higher physical activity was inversely related to risk; compared with women in the lowest quintile of physical activity, women in the highest quintile of physical activity had a 17% lower risk of hearing loss. Walking, the most common form of physical activity among these women, was associated with a lower risk; women who walked 2 hours per week or more had a 15% lower risk of hearing loss than women who walked less than one hour per week. These findings provide evidence that maintaining healthy weight and staying physically active, potentially modifiable lifestyle factors, may help reduce the risk of hearing loss.

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