Hearing Loss In One EarMay 16, 2014
We know that our sense of hearing works best when our ears hear well, and when both ears hear the same. But that isn’t always the case. What happens when our hearing is imbalanced – when one ear hears better than the other? A new study is going to find out. Read about this ground-breaking study, and how asymmetrical hearing loss may be affecting you...
Symmetrical hearing loss is when hearing loss is the same in both ears, and asymmetrical hearing loss is when each ear hears differently. The auditory system is designed to hear sounds from both ears, and the brain uses information from both ears to calculate things like sound direction and distance. As a result, those with asymmetrical hearing loss could have difficulty judging how far away noises are, or may not be able to hear voices in a noisy room.
Studying Hearing Loss In One Ear
The National Institute of Health recently awarded researchers at the Washington University of Medicine a $5 million, three-year grant to study how asymmetrical hearing loss affects people, compared to those with symmetrical hearing loss. They will also study the effect of cochlear implants on people with asymmetrical hearing loss.
Hearing Loss In One Ear Caused By Many Factors
Typically, people with hearing loss in only one ear have trouble understanding speech in noisy rooms, even when the other ear hears just fine. Hearing loss in one ear, also called unilateral hearing loss, can be caused by genetics, head trauma, Meniere’s disease or exposure to loud noise in one ear.
Brain Imaging To Understand Hearing Impairment
The Washington research team will use brain imaging to define the way the brain works differently when hearing is impaired in only one ear. This will allow the researchers to understand how the brain adapts to hearing well from only one ear, and the challenges faced by those with unilateral hearing loss.
Studying Hearing Loss In Children
The research will be conducted on both adults and children. To date, not a lot of research has been done on infants and children, and the researchers in Washington will be working to see if cochlear implants in children are as effective as they are in adults.
Cochlear Implants For Hearing Loss
According to research conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cochlear implants in adults with hearing loss can help them better understand speech, and cochlear implants in children with hearing loss can help them learn speech, language and social skills.
Cochlear Implants For Asymmetrical Hearing Loss
The team in Washington already knows that cochlear implants can make a huge difference in many people with hearing loss, and they will continue to study the effects of the cochlear implants, and in particular, how cochlear implants help people with asymmetrical hearing loss.
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