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July 11, 2006

Scientists researching age related hearing loss

Three University of Michigan Health System research projects are looking into the causes of age related hearing loss. The researchers hope the results will be helpful in preventing or diminishing the hearing problems among the elderly.

Scientists researching age related hearing loss

The National Institute on Aging awarded researchers from University of Michigan Health System a five-year, $6.9 million grant for three projects that aim to increase researchers' understanding of aging processes in the inner ear.

“The three component projects within this program have a high likelihood of providing interesting new insights into the ways in which different stress pathways affect the aging cochlea leading to age-related hearing loss,” explained Richard Miller, professor of pathology, in a press release.

“If we learn more about how genes affect late-life hearing loss, for example, we have the potential to delay hearing loss in people as they age, or even prevent it altogether,” said Miller.

Common among the elderly

Studies indicate that age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, affects an increasing number of people as they reach older ages. Approximately 44 percent of people suffer from a significant hearing loss by age 69. This number rises to 66 percent by age 79 and skyrockets to 90 percent after age 80.

“Age-related hearing loss is an issue that catches up with all of us. It affects not only the people suffering the hearing loss, but also their families and friends who struggle to find ways of communicating with them”, said professor Jochen Schacht, the principal investigator on the grant.


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