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Ear / Nose / Throat

Study Solves Mystery of Mammalian Ears

Ear / Nose / ThroatJul 27 07

A 30-year scientific debate over how specialized cells in the inner ear amplify sound in mammals appears to have been settled more in favor of bouncing cell bodies rather than vibrating, hair-like cilia, according to investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The finding could explain why dogs, cats, humans and other mammals have such sensitive hearing and the ability to discriminate among frequencies. The work also highlights the importance of basic hearing research in studies into the causes of deafness. A report on this work appears in the advanced online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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Genetic disease carries risk of sudden deafness

Ear / Nose / Throat • • GeneticsJul 04 07

People diagnosed with a genetic disease called von Hippel-Lindau disease or VHL may suddenly experience hearing loss caused by a tumor, researchers advise in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

VHL disease is characterized by the development of tumors in blood vessels in the retina of the eye and in the brain. Lesions and cysts can also develop in other parts of the body.

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Hearing loss: Is there a cure?

Ear / Nose / Throat • • Public HealthMar 14 07

How do you protect your ears from abuse in our increasingly noisy world? And once the damage is done, can you fix it? Jeremy Laurance sounds out the facts

Deafness, unlike blindness, has always been a bit of a joke. The flesh-coloured box behind the ear emitting periodic whistling sounds is, like the mother-in-law often found wearing it, easily mocked. Embarrassment and denial are the first reactions of those losing their second most important sense. As a result, most people are ignorant about the causes of hearing loss - and the cures.

Last week, the Government published new guidance to the NHS advising it to set up one-stop shops to speed up the assessment and fitting of hearing aids and to use the private sector to help tackle demand. But there is little guidance for individuals on how to protect their hearing and, when protection fails, how to navigate a market in which hearing aids range in price from less than £300 to almost £3,000.

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Antibiotic ear drops favored over popular oral antibiotics for ear infections

Ear / Nose / Throat • • InfectionsDec 13 06

A multicenter study on treating common ear infections in children with ear tubes adds to a growing body of evidence that favors antibiotic ear drops over antibiotics swallowed in pill or liquid form in such cases, a UT Southwestern Medical Center researcher reports.

The latest study, involving 80 children, showed that antibiotic ear drops performed better and faster in treating middle ear infections in children with ear tubes than merely taking oral antibiotics such as swallowing a pill or liquid. The findings are available online in the journal Pediatrics.

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Delay of ear infection therapy avoids drug overuse

Ear / Nose / ThroatSep 13 06

Telling parents to wait 48 hours before filling a prescription for antibiotics, so they can see if their child’s ear infection clears up on its own, can help reduce the overuse of these drugs and consequently lower rates of drug resistance, researchers said on Tuesday.

U.S. doctors write 15 million antibiotic prescriptions a year for children’s ear infections, though there is increasing evidence the drugs may not be necessary. Excessive antibiotic use could lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cause drug reactions such as vomiting and diarrhea.

By taking a “wait-and-see” approach where the parent is given a prescription but told to wait 48 hours to fill it, researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, found fewer prescriptions were filled.

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Genetic link found to noise-induced hearing loss

Ear / Nose / ThroatJul 05 06

Belgian scientists have pinpointed three genes that may explain why some people exposed to loud noise suffer hearing loss.

The genes, discovered by Professor Guy Van Camp and researchers at the University of Antwerp, are involved in the recycling of potassium in the inner ear, which is essential for normal hearing.

Dr. Ralph Holme, of Britain’s national charity for the deaf and hard of hearing RNID, which funded the research, described the finding as a very exciting breakthrough. “This discovery could revolutionize the way this common form of hearing loss is prevented and treated in the future,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Cochlear Implantation In Both Ears May Improve Speech Perception

Ear / Nose / ThroatMay 22 06

A new study suggests that sequential bilateral cochlear implantation, or the placement of cochlear implants in both of a child’s ears through separate surgeries, has the potential to improve speech perception abilities in quiet and in noise. Cochlear implants are electronic devices that have the potential to restore partial hearing to the deaf.

Background: Binaural or two ear hearing enables optimal performance of the human auditory system. In normal hearing subjects binaural hearing is directly associated with improved speech understanding in quiet and in noise, as well as improved sound localization ability, when compared to listening with a single ear. Unilateral (hearing in one ear) and/or bilateral hearing loss may deprive individuals of these binaural mechanisms. Because of its widely recognized advantages, hearing professionals have for many years endeavored to provide effective binaural hearing to individuals with hearing impairment whenever technology has allowed.

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Tinnitus may interfere with tough mental tasks

Ear / Nose / ThroatMar 22 06

People who suffer from chronic, moderate tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, may have more trouble performing demanding cognitive tasks than individuals without tinnitus, Australian investigators report.

“Our results are good news in that there is no difference between groups on everyday, familiar tasks,” co-investigator Dr. Catherine Stevens told Reuters Health. “The differences observed in this controlled experimental setting would not affect people with tinnitus in their daily lives.”

In fact, “it may not be the tinnitus per se that is related to distress but negative reactions and negative thoughts associated with tinnitus,” she added.

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Hormone linked to good hearing as we age

Ear / Nose / ThroatFeb 10 06

Researchers have linked a hormone known to adjust levels of key brain chemicals to the quality of our hearing as we age. The more of the hormone that older people have in their bloodstream, the better their hearing is, and the less of the hormone, the worse their hearing is.

The hormone, aldosterone, is known to regulate kidney function and also plays a role in controlling levels of two crucial signaling chemicals in the nervous system, potassium and sodium. For nerves to send signals crisply and work properly, potassium and sodium must be in precise proportion, without any disruption in the molecular channels or gates through which they move.

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Sound vs. Silence May Divide Those With Hearing Loss

Ear / Nose / ThroatNov 08 05

No two adolescents with a significant hearing loss in the same class at the Maria H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf here face the very same challenges in coping with the hearing world. This has always been so, but the advent of the cochlear implant has changed the equation.

Kathryn Cleary, who teaches U.S. history and government to high school students, has a mix of students that includes those who are profoundly deaf as well as students who have varying stages of hearing loss. Some students use hearing aids and some students have cochlear implants, but all students are fluent in American Sign Language, or ASL. It is the lingua Franca of the deaf world.

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When Hearing Is Lost, Surgery May Be Treatment of Choice

Ear / Nose / ThroatNov 04 05

Special education, loss of productivity, and the need for medical treatments associated with hearing loss cost an estimated $30 billion a year, yet hearing loss seems well outside the embrace of mainstream medicine.

For example, when Donna R. Halloran, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, analyzed results of hearing screenings done in pediatricians’ offices she found that 59% of children who failed the hearing test had no further evaluation.

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Ringing in the Ears Called Growing Peril

Ear / Nose / ThroatOct 18 05

Let your ears tell the tale. That ringing may signal lifelong trouble.

So here’s a message, loud and clear. Turn down that iPod! Audiologists are hearing more and more about ringing in the ears, and ringing is a telltale sign of future chronic tinnitus.

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Hearing tests for all infants may improve outcomes

Ear / Nose / ThroatAug 19 05

Universal newborn screening for hearing impairment is more effective than waiting to screen until 8 months of age in achieving early referral for complete hearing assessments, the results of a study in the UK suggest. Early referral for children with hearing loss is believed to be a critical element in minimizing speech impairment by the time the child reaches school age.

Although universal newborn screening for hearing impairment has been recommended by the National Institutes of Health since 1993, the benefit of such programs has been disputed, Dr. Colin Kennedy and his associates explain in the current issue of The Lancet.

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