Though it’s well known that exposure to loud noises can cause hearing loss, the mechanism behind this occurrence and how to combat it was not well understood until recently. A study published in November 2021 uncovered that exposure to loud noises causes fluid buildup in the inner ear.
About the Study
The study, entitled “Endolymphatic Hydrops Is a Marker of Synaptopathy Following Traumatic Noise Exposure” appears in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. The research team includes students and faculty from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
The team confirmed three facts:
- Loud sounds are associated with a loss of auditory cells in the inner ear.
- Exposure causes a condition known as endolymphatic hydrops, or fluid buildup in the inner ear.
- Treating fluid buildup with saline solution lessens nerve damage.
This type of hearing loss is sometimes known as “hidden hearing loss” because it can’t always be detected by conventional hearing tests. However, scanning for fluid buildup can help experts diagnose and prevent impending nerve damage.
According to lead study author John Oghalai, M.D., “First, if human ears exposed to loud noise, such as a siren or airbag deployment, can be scanned for a level of fluid buildup – and this technology is already being tested out – medical professionals may have a way of diagnosing impending nerve damage. Secondly, if the scan discovered fluid buildup, people could be treated with hypertonic saline and possibly save their hearing.”
In addition, this study has important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of Meniere’s disease, a condition thought to be caused by fluid buildup in the ear that triggers episodes of hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and vertigo (spinning sensation).
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is the most preventable type. You can prevent damage by:
- Following the 60/60 rule when listening to music or other media through headphones or earbuds: listen at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
- Wearing custom hearing protection such as custom earplugs from Hearing Care by Hough when attending noisy events like concerts and sporting events at Paycom Center.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Hearing Care by Hough today