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Headphones and Hearing Loss

Findings in fruit flies could bolster hearing loss treatment for older consumers

Researchers are confident that an intervention could benefit those struggling with hearing loss

Hearing loss affects countless consumers as they enter into older age, and previous studies have warned about how the condition can lead to premature death.

Now, researchers from University College London have found that a gene in fruit flies could be the key to treating hearing loss for older consumers. Because of how similar fruit flies’ auditory processing is to humans, these advances could greatly benefit consumers with hearing loss. 

“While many studies have been con...

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    Reading difficulties for children may indicate hearing impairment

    Researchers say hearing problems can be detrimental to the learning process

    If your child has reading difficulties, the problem may not lie in their comprehension – it might be due to a hearing problem.

    That’s the conclusion of a Coventry University study, which found that 25 percent of young participants who had reading difficulties also had mild to moderate hearing impairment. Report author Dr. Helen Breadmore says the finding indicates a greater need to screen young children for hearing problems.

    "Many children in school may have an undetected mild hearing loss, which makes it harder for them to access the curriculum,” she said. "Current hearing screening procedures are not picking up these children, and we would advise that children have their hearing tested in more detail and more often.

    Detrimenal to development

    The study compared children with dyslexia to a group of children with a history of repeated ear infections to see if both groups had similar difficulties with reading comprehension.

    The researchers asked nearly 200 participants to complete a series of tests to determine how they used word sounds and meanings in speech and literacy. After an 18-month period, all participants were tested again.

    The test results showed that 25 percent of participants with dyslexia suffered from some kind of hearing impairment, with symptoms mild enough to be missed by parents. Literacy problems were slightly more common in children with hearing infections, affecting 33 percent of these participants.

    Breadmore points out that these hearing problems can be detrimental in a classroom setting, and that it can negatively impact long-term development.

    "A mild-moderate hearing loss will make the perception of speech sounds difficult, particularly in a classroom environment with background noise and other distractions. Therefore, children who have suffered repeated ear infections and associated hearing problems have fluctuating access to different speech sounds precisely at the age when this information is crucial in the early stages of learning to read,” she said.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that there is no single treatment or intervention for childhood hearing loss. However, it says that some options may include working with a support group or medical professional, or buying a hearing aid.

    If your child has reading difficulties, the problem may not lie in their comprehension – it might be due to a hearing problem.That’s the conclusion of...

    Consumers affected by hearing loss to double by 2060, study finds

    Researchers call on policy makers to plan ahead

    If you’re at all frustrated with an older family member who’s hard of hearing, you might want to consider lightening up a bit.

    Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have conducted a study and found that the prevalence of hearing loss in older Americans is likely to rise dramatically in the next 40 years or so. Unfortunately, this is an issue that may also be indicative of greater health problems to come in the years ahead.

    “Hearing loss is a major public health issue independently associated with higher health care costs, accelerated cognitive decline, and poorer physical functioning. More than two-thirds of adults 70 years or older in the United States have clinically meaningful hearing loss,” the researchers said.

    “With an aging society, the number of persons with hearing loss will grow, increasing the demand for audiologic health care services.”

    Hearing loss rates to double

    The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing audiometric data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. By cross-referencing this information with estimates from the 10-year population estimates from 2020 to 2060, the researchers found that the number of people that will suffer from hearing loss will increase from 44.1 million to 73.5 million during the time period.

    Additionally, the study found that older adults will be most affected by the condition. The researchers estimate that 55.4% of all adults with hearing loss will be over the age of 70 in 2020. By 2060, that figure is expected to drop slightly to 67.4%. However, hearing loss is expected to increase by 7.6% in adults 20 and over during the same period.

    The researchers point out that over the next 43 years, the number of U.S. consumers affected by hearing loss is projected to double, outpacing the overall population growth rate. They say that it is up to policy makers and elected officials to plan for this eventuality to reduce negative effects going forward.

    “These projections can inform policy makers and public health researchers in planning appropriately for the future audiologic hearing health care needs of society,” they said.

    The full study has been published in JAMA Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

    If you’re at all frustrated with an older family member who’s hard of hearing, you might want to consider lightening up a bit.Researchers from Johns Ho...

    Lawmakers want some hearing aids sold over the counter

    High costs, they say, keep some people who need them from buying them

    Hearing loss or degradation is common in the United States, especially among the aging population.

    Hearing aids have done a lot to restore this sensory loss, but according to AARP, two-thirds of people over 50 who might benefit from hearing aids don't use them.

    “One reason may be sticker shock,” AARP says. “The average price of a single hearing aid is $2,300, according to a 2015 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. And most people need two.”

    The seniors advocacy group cites a Consumer Reports study that found the average retail markup for these devices is 117%.

    That's gotten the attention of a couple of lawmakers who, until now, have mostly been focused on the high cost of prescription drugs. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are co-sponsoring legislation they say could make hearing aids accessible to more consumers.

    Their bill – the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016 – would allow certain types of hearing aids to be sold over the counter (OTC) at retail stores. Warren says the measure addresses the cost issue and would make it easier for consumers to shop for the best value. Grassley says it's a common sense move.

    Similar to buying reading glasses

    “If you can buy non-prescription reading glasses over the counter, it makes sense that you should be able to buy basic, safe hearing aids, too,” he said.

    Grassley says it's all about lowering costs, and to do that he says you need competition. But he concedes the option would not be for everyone.

    “This won't affect those who need professional expertise to be fitted for hearing aids or have hearing aids implanted,” Grassley said. The over the counter option is for those who would benefit from a simpler device."

    Both the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine back making some types of hearing aids available over the counter and removing the requirement of a medical evaluation.

    After studying the issue, PCAST pointed to “considerable evidence” that hearing aid manufacturers can still be profitable selling their products for “a fraction of today's end-user cost."

    Hearing loss or degradation is common in the United States, especially among the aging population.Hearing aids have done a lot to restore this sensory...