DR. KIM'S JOURNAL

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Entries in University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (2)

Wednesday
Feb172010

Chance of hearing loss depends on when you were born?

There was a recent study entitled, "Generational Differences in the Prevalence of Hearing Impairment in Older Adults," conducted at the University of Wisconsin—Madison regarding hearing loss with aging. The results are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2010;171:260-266). Data was collected from 1993 to 2008. The study included 3753 adults (Ages 48-92) in the town of Beaver Dam, WI. The study found that for every five years later that people in the study were born, the chances that they would have a hearing loss decreased by 13% in men and 6% in women. If hearing loss were purely a genetic normal part of aging, the authors stated that you wouldn't see this quick change in prevalence data. Possible reasons for the trend include a shift over time from blue collar to white collar jobs, a reduction in smoking, lower cholesterol levels and improved access to health care.

Thursday
Jan072010

Two recent research studies with mice that might tell us a little more about age-related hearing loss

The first study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It reported that age-related hearing loss starts with oxidative stress brought on by free radicals. This stress triggers cell death. In some mice, this age-related hearing loss did not occur because they lacked the Bak gene which mice normally have and which plays a role in the cell death. If this oxidative stress could be prevented, it may lead to ways to prevent hearing loss due to age. Another article about this study appears online at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health website.
 
The second study was published in Neurobiology of Aging. In this study, two strains of mice were interbred. The cross-breeding produced a new strain of mice that both breeds well and hears well into old age. This strain mirrors the 5% of humans that have "golden ears" that function well into old age. This should help scientists understand more about how a person's hearing changes with age. Another article about this study appears in Scientific American.