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Reposted from ScienceDaily (May 5, 2010) — By the time they reach school age, one in 20 children have hearing loss in one ear. That can raise significant hurdles for these children, say the results of a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, because loss of hearing in one ear hurts their ability to comprehend and use language.

“For many years, pediatricians and educators thought that as long as children have one normal hearing ear, their speech and language would develop normally,” says lead author Judith E. C. Lieu, MD, a Washington University ear, nose and throat specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“But then a few studies began suggesting these children might have problems in school. Now our study has shown that on average, children with hearing loss in one ear have poorer oral language scores than children with hearing in both ears,” Lieu says.

Hearing loss in one ear can stem from congenital abnormalities in the ear, head trauma or infections such as meningitis. Children with hearing loss in one ear may go undetected because they can appear to have normal hearing. Their difficulty hearing may be mistaken simply for lack of attention or selective hearing, says Lieu, assistant professor of otolaryngology.

Even children with recognized one-side hearing loss often aren’t fitted with hearing aids and often don’t receive accommodations for disability.

The study will be published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers studied 74 six- to 12-year-old children with hearing loss in one ear. Each was matched with a sibling with normal hearing so that the researchers could minimize the possible effects of environmental and genetic factors on the children’s language skills. The children were tested with the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS), a widely used tool to assess language comprehension and expression.

An average OWLS score is 100, and hearing loss in one ear caused about a 10-point drop in scores. The oral composite score — which reflects both children’s ability to understand what is said to them and their ability to respond or express themselves — averaged 90 in children with hearing loss in one ear.

Lieu says that the study demonstrated the strongest effect from hearing loss in one ear in children who are living below the poverty level or with mothers who have little education. Poverty levels and maternal education levels are well-established influences on language skills, and hearing loss in one ear may increase that effect.

“This study should raise awareness that if children with hearing loss in one ear are having difficulties in speech or reading in school, their hearing may be part of the problem,” Lieu says. “Parents, educators and pediatricians shouldn’t assume that having hearing in one ear means children won’t need additional assistance.”

The study does not address which possible solutions will be most effective for overcoming the decrease in language skills seen in the children with hearing loss in one ear. But Lieu suggests that studies could be done to see if hearing aids or amplification systems in the classroom will help.

In addition, having an educational audiologist as part of an individualized educational plan might be beneficial.

“The effect of hearing loss in one ear may be subtle,” Lieu says. “These children may shun large group situations because the noise overwhelms them, and they have a hard time understanding speech. They could have difficulties playing team sports because they can’t localize sound well and can’t tell who is calling to them.

“For them, listening takes a lot more work, and they may have to put in extra effort,” Lieu says. “We don’t know yet if the hearing loss ultimately affects their overall educational achievement and eventually, even which occupations they choose.”


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. The original article was written by Gwen Ericson.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lieu JEC, Tye-Murray N, Karzon RK, Piccirillo JF. Unilateral hearing loss is associated with worse speech-language scores in children. Pediatrics, 2010; 125 (6)
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Researchers Dr. Michael Kilgard and Dr. Navzer Engineer from The University of Texas at Dallas and University-affiliated biotechnology firm MicroTransponder report that stimulation of the vagus nerve paired with sounds eliminated tinnitus in rats. A clinical trial in humans is due to begin in the next few months.

Described as a ringing in the ears, tinnitus causes mild irritation for some people but is disabling and painful for many others. The U.S. Veterans Administration spends about $1 billion a year on disability payments for tinnitus, said Kilgard, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas and co-author of the journal article.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom some people experience as a result of hearing loss. When sensory cells in the inner ear are damaged, such as from loud noise, the resulting hearing loss changes some of the signals sent from the ear to the brain. For reasons that are not fully understood, some people will develop tinnitus as a result.

“We believe the part of the brain that processes sounds—the auditory cortex—delegates too many neurons to some frequencies, and things begin to go awry,” said Michael Kilgard, Ph.D., associate professor of behavior and brain sciences at UT-Dallas, and a co-principal investigator on the study. “Because there are too many neurons processing the same frequencies, they are firing much stronger than they should be.”

In addition, the neurons fire in sync with one another and they also fire more frequently when it is quiet. According to Dr. Kilgard, it’s these changing brain patterns that produce tinnitus, which is usually a high-pitched tone in one or both ears, but it may also be heard as clicking, roaring, or a whooshing sound.

“Brain changes in response to nerve damage or cochlear trauma cause irregular neural activity believed to be responsible for many types of chronic pain and tinnitus,” he said. “But when we paired tones with brief pulses of vagus nerve stimulation, we eliminated the physiological and behavioral symptoms of tinnitus in noise-exposed rats.”

The researchers are, in essence, retraining the brain to ignore the nerve signals that simulate ringing. They monitored the laboratory rats for several weeks after therapy, and the improvements persisted.

“This minimally invasive method of generating neural plasticity allows us to precisely manipulate brain circuits, which cannot be achieved with drugs,” said Dr. Navzer Engineer, vice president of preclinical affairs at MicroTransponder and lead author on the study. “Pairing sounds with VNS provides that precision by rewiring damaged circuits and reversing the abnormal activity that generates the phantom sound.”

The research team is developing parameters for a clinical trial in humans. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is currently used in humans for treatment of epilepsy and depression. “The translation from basic science to the clinic has been quite rapid,” Engineer said. “It’s exciting that the National Institutes for Health has been so supportive of our efforts to move this work along faster, in hopes of providing effective treatments to tinnitus patients.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) early in 2010 granted Kilgard and MicroTransponder $1.7 million to further investigate whether nerve stimulation offers a long-term cure for tinnitus.

The first patient could be treated in Europe by early 2011, Engineer said. The initial set of human participants will have the electrodes attached to the left vagus nerve in their neck during a short outpatient procedure. They will come to the clinic Monday through Friday for a few weeks of treatment. At each daily session, they will experience VNS paired with sounds.

MicroTransponder, a neuroscience based medical device company, was founded by UT Dallas PhD candidate Will Rosellini and sponsored by the school’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. MicroTransponder is developing a less invasive wireless medical device to stimulate the vagus nerve. The UT Dallas/MicroTransponder team also is studying how best to optimize the paired therapy for tinnitus patients.

Past research has shown that the severity of chronic pain and tinnitus is tied to the degree of plasticity in the brain’s cortex. A previous study showed that repeatedly pairing sensory stimuli with electrical stimulation of a brain structure called nucleus basalis generates powerful and long-lasting changes in cortical organization. Since the vagus nerve is easier to access for clinical use, and is known to trigger the release of molecules in the brain that promote neural changes, follow-up studies were performed on the vagus nerve.

For the VNS study, the research team used a “gap detection model” to document tinnitus in rats that were exposed to loud noise for one hour while under anesthesia. Each of the noise-exposed rats used in this study exhibited a significant impairment in the ability to detect a quiet gap in a tone near their tinnitus frequency, but exhibited no impairment when the gap was placed in a higher or lower tone.

“Previous research showed that a frequency-specific impairment in gap detection is a likely sign that noise-exposed rats experience a mid-frequency tinnitus ‘ringing’ that fills the silent gaps,” Kilgard said. “Though it isn’t possible to evaluate the subjective experience of rats, this gap impairment has been taken as an indicator of tinnitus.”

When the rats were exposed to VNS paired with sounds, the gap impairment was eliminated — indicating that the tinnitus was gone.

Today’s therapies for tinnitus have limited success and frequently must be modified over time because they become ineffective. “The VNS treatment would be an improvement over current therapies involving medications or counseling because it offers a possible permanent end to the condition and doesn’t appear to cause any significant side effects,” Kilgard said.

Additional sponsors of the work include the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

The paper’s other authors were: UT Dallas neuroscientists Drs. Jonathan Riley, Jonathan Seale, Will Vrana, Jai Shetake, Sindhu Sudanagunta and Michael Borland. The article will be published in the Jan. 27 print edition of the journal.

www.hearingaiddocs.com

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Classical musicians at extreme risk for hearing loss Editor: You’re probably not surprised by this headline, because we’ve been hearing for years about all the common activities that can cause hearing loss. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s not just the loud music that endangers the hearing of classical musicians! Thanks to hearit.org for this article. Please visit them for more interesting articles on a wide range of hearing loss topics.

May 2008

An increasing number of classical musicians suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus and/or hyperacusis which may severely affect their professional and daily life. These conditions should be considered and treated as health care conditions.

Classical musicians are at extreme risk for hearing loss. A Finnish study among classical musicians found that 15 percent of the musicians in the study suffered from permanent tinnitus, in comparison to 2 percent among the general population. Temporary tinnitus affected another 41 percent of the musicians in group rehearsals and 18 percent of those in individual rehearsals. It is estimated that 15 percent of the general population experience tinnitus temporarily.

As many as 43 percent of the classical musicians suffered from hyperacusis, a hearing disorder characterized by reduced tolerance to specific sound levels not normally regarded as loud for people with normal hearing.

Hearing loss causes stress

83 percent of the musicians found their job stressful. Those suffering from hearing damage were three times more likely to suffer from stress according to the study. Suffering from tinnitus increased the stress prevalence five-fold, and those with hyperacusis were nine times more likely to suffer from stress.

Music can be noise

Up to half of the musicians in the study considered their work environment as noisy. Hearing loss figured prominently in this perception, as well. Musicians with hearing disorders were three to ten times more likely to consider their working environment as very noisy.

Classical musicians are exposed to high levels of noise for five to six hours daily. The sound level from a double bass, for example, may reach 83 dB, and a flute or the percussion instruments produce as much as 95 dB of noise. This is significantly above the 85 dB maximum recommended noise exposure limit in a workplace, established by the World Health Organization, WHO. In the European Union, the EU directive sets a daily noise exposure limit value of 87 dB in the workplace. If noise levels cannot be adequately reduced, hearing protection must be available and regular hearing tests must be conducted to safeguard the employees’ hearing health.

Few use hearing protection

Less than one musician in four in the Finnish study used hearing protection even though 70 percent of the musicians said they we concerned about their hearing. Among the musicians with normal hearing, only 10 to 15 percent used hearing protection, while the rate of hearing impaired musicians using hearing protection was about 10 percentage points higher.

Although special hearing protection has been designed for musicians, the musicians in the Finnish study said that they find it difficult to perform and hear the others playing when using hearing protection. They also found the hearing protection uncomfortable to wear and adjust. Some found them hard to use due to existing hearing problems. Others believed that music would not damage their hearing.

Source: “Effects of Noise on Classical Musicians”, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere University Hospital, Finland, Magazine 8, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

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Here’s a design concept for new hearing aids… Way to think forward!  Blending current trends with technology.

I’m not sure how much it’ll stir the hearing aid industry pot, but it’s a fresh way of thinking!  Check it out

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Hello everyone!

This is the first video of a series of hearing aid reviews designed to assist the hearing aid prospect into finding the right hearing aid for their hearing loss.  We  will assess several aspects and important factors in purchasing a hearing device.  Come check us out and help us spread the word!

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – International Business Machines Corp is looking to the building blocks of our bodies — DNA — to be the structure of next-generation microchips.

As chipmakers compete to develop ever-smaller chips at cheaper prices, designers are struggling to cut costs.

Artificial DNA nanostructures, or “DNA origami” may provide a cheap framework on which to build tiny microchips, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Microchips are used in computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.

“This is the first demonstration of using biological molecules to help with processing in the semiconductor industry,” IBM research manager Spike Narayan said in an interview with Reuters.

“Basically, this is telling us that biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes,” he said.

The research was a joint undertaking by scientists at IBM’s Almaden Research Center and the California Institute of Technology.

Right now, the tinier the chip, the more expensive the equipment. Narayan said that if the DNA origami process scales to production-level, manufacturers could trade hundreds of millions of dollars in complex tools for less than a million dollars of polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements.

IBM Headquarters

“The savings across many fronts could add up significantly,” he said.

But the new processes are at least 10 years out. Narayan said that while the DNA origami could allow chipmakers to build frameworks that are far smaller than possible with conventional tools, the technique still needs years of experimentation and testing.

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WEBWIRE – Tuesday, August 04, 2009

HearingAidDocs.com, provider of top-of-the-line hearing aids at a fraction of the cost from a traditional brick and mortar hearing practice, announced the launch of HAD-4-KidsTM , a program developed by the company’s Audiologists who saw a need for low-cost options for parents with children who have hearing loss and need pediatric hearing aids. Today, there is a lack of insurance coverage for kid’s hearing aids. HAD-4-Kids provide parents with an affordable option.

There are more than one million children in the United States that have hearing loss and are in need of hearing aids. This is a staggering figure that the founders of HearingAidDocs.com want to help decrease. They’ve taken into account all the features and factors of hearing aids with kids in mind, such as FM system capability or tamper-proof battery doors and pediatric size earhooks, to create a recommended list of products for children. Because nothing with kids is 100% tamper-proof, most parents struggle to keep up and to pay full-price for new hearing aids every 3-5 years. The costs can become insurmountable.

HAD-4-Kids is for children 18 years or younger and they must have seen an audiologist for a hearing evaluation within the past six months. In addition, once the hearing aid is purchased, it must be fit by a licensed audiologist. If your child is less than 6 years old or is developmentally delayed, it is preferable that you seek a Pediatric Audiologist.

“I began using hearing aids when I was four years old and it became my dream to become an audiologist so I could help other people with similar conditions,” said Justin Piraino, co-founder and Audiologist, HearingAidDocsTM. “It’s important to us as Audiologists and founders of this company to ensure that children who have the need for hearing aids, have access to them, and cost is not a barrier. HAD-4-Kids is our way of giving back to the community and giving parents a break with their family budget. No child should have to forego the assistance of hearing aids in this day and age.”

45-Day Money Back Guarantee/Trial Period
Most states require a trial period of 30 days with money back guarantee for hearing aids purchased. The state regulations allow for a non-refundable fitting fee for the services provider. HearingAidDocsTM will provide patients the comfort of a 100% money back guarantee (minus shipping & handling fees) within 45 days of delivering the hearing aid.

About HearingAidDocs.com
HearingAidDocs.com is the provider of top-of-the-line hearing aids from the most reputable hearing aid manufacturers in the world at a fraction of the price that consumers would pay at local brick-and-mortar audiology/hearing aid practices. We use our knowledge and expertise as Doctors of Audiology to recommend and program the hearing aids purchased. The unique, industry-changing WebAuDTM application takes the consumer’s audiogram, hearing status, history and needs into account to make several hearing aid recommendations. For more information, visit HearingAidDocs.com.

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