Monday, July 25, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Who would have thought that second hand smoke could cause hearing loss? ABC reports that a study found connection in teens between second hand smoke and hearing loss:
The researchers noted that the link of secondhand smoke exposure with elevated thresholds ranging from 0.5 kHz to 8 kHz suggests "that the injury to the inner ear is global."
In addition, the unilateral hearing loss is probably an early phase of ocular damage that is likely to progress in severity, they cautioned.
The elevated thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz were particularly important, according to Lalwani and colleagues.
"These mid-to-high frequencies are critical for hearing in humans and are responsible for the clarity of hearing that allows us to discriminate between similar sounding words," they observed.
Possible mechanisms by which secondhand smoke could result in auditory damage include effects on the vasculature of the inner ear and injury from nicotine or other components of the smoke.
Hearing loss in young children has been shown to interfere with not only speech and language development, but also cognitive function, academic progress, and social interaction.
But newborns and young children are routinely screened for hearing difficulties, while adolescents are not.
The findings of this study suggest that teens who are exposed to secondhand smoke should have their hearing tested, and parents and caretakers should be made aware of the auditory hazards of their smoking.
Limitations of the study include its use of cross-sectional data which doesn't allow assignment of causation, lack of information on duration and sources of secondhand smoke exposure -- including prenatal exposure -- and absence of data on other factors such as exposure to loud noises.
The researchers also were unable to rule out the possibility that some of the participants had conductive, rather than sensorineural, hearing loss.
They concluded, "Future studies need to investigate the adverse consequences of this early hearing loss on social development, academic performance, behavioral and cognitive function, and public health costs."
Friday, July 15, 2011
WebMD reports that in an analysis of 13 studies people with Diabetes were twice as likely to have a hearing loss problem that those without. That in and of itself is not clear proof of cause and effect but would suggest that those with diabetes get tested regularly for hearing loss issues.
Blood Vessel Damage
It’s unknown why hearing loss is more common among people with diabetes, but most researchers believe that damage to the blood vessels is the main culprit, according to Pamela D. Parker, MD, of the A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Ariz. She has studied the link between hearing loss and diabetes for years but was not involved with the new study.
Researchers believe that over time, the high blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes may damage the small blood vessels of the inner ear, making it harder to hear. Autopsy studies of diabetes patients have shown evidence of such damage.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and about 34.5 million Americans have some type of hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association.
A 2008 study showed that 54% of people with diabetes had at least mild hearing loss in their ability to hear high-frequency tones, compared with 32% of those with no history of diabetes. And 21% of participants with diabetes had at least mild hearing loss in their ability to hear low-to-mid frequency tones, compared with 9% of those without diabetes.
The new study suggests that people with diabetes are 2.3 times more likely to have mild hearing loss, defined as having trouble hearing words spoken in a normal voice from more than 3 feet away.
These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The NYT is reporting on the NYC police department and it's policy on hiring: if you can't pass a hearing test you will not be hired as a police officer. The department has allowed officers to wear hearing aids and even pay for them at times but this is not the official policy. In 2009 they started enforcing a ban on hearing aids effectively pushing out the older officers who then would tell others not to wear them to work.2 have already filed a complaint with the EEOC stating that the policies are discriminatory.