Sound deprivation may cause irreversible hearing loss, a study reveals. The findings suggest that chronic conductive hearing loss – which can occur with reoccurring ear infections – can lead to permanent hearing loss if left untreated.
Chronic conductive hearing loss, such as that caused by recurrent ear infections, may lead to permanent hearing loss if it remains untreated. This is the result of a study, conducted by a team of researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, who found that sound deprivation in adult mice causes irreversible damage to the inner ear. The study was published in PLOS ONE.
“After a year of sound deprivation, we observed dramatic changes in the inner ear – notably, a significant loss of the synaptic connections through which the sensory cells send their electrical signals to the brain,” Dr. Stephane F. Maison, Ph.D., investigator in the Eaton-Peabody Laboraties at Massachusetts Eye and Ear said.
Early intervention and treatment
Data from the study suggest that the auditory deprivation itself damages the inner ear in ways similar to that seen in age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss (types of sensorineural hearing loss).
The study’s authors suggest that the effects of the inner ear damaging sound deprivation need to be considered in the clinical management of chronic conductive hearing loss although the underlying mechanisms of the deprivation are not yet known.
“Our findings suggest that audiologists and physicians should advocate for early intervention and treat these middle ear conditions,” Dr. Maison explained.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound transmission from the ear canal to the inner ear is impaired. This causes a reduction in sound level and an inability to hear soft sounds. Leading causes of conductive hearing loss include earwax blockage, otitis media (ear infections) and otosclerosis.
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