New Research

NPR: Take Care of Your Eyes and Ears to Keep Your Brain Sharp

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We’ve published several blog posts discussing the relationship between the brain and ears. A recent story on NPR (National Public Radio) shared research findings that further link hearing (and sight) to cognitive functioning. Researchers tracked approximately 2,000 older adults in the U.S. both before and after they started using hearing aids. A series of tests were performed with participants every two years from 1996 to 2014. They found the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 75 percent following the adoption of hearing aids. The same study found that the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 50 percent following cataract surgery. You can read the full article here. Our takeaway? We understand no one wants hearing aids, but it’s proven that hearing better improves your quality of life, both physically and mentally.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, read our July 2018 blog post, How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Your Mental Health. It provides more details about the relationship between the ears and the brain and how untreated hearing loss affects the brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds.

New Study Finds Healthy Diets May Reduce Risk of Hearing Loss in Women

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We've blogged in the past about how nutrition affects hearing, but now there's more! A study published in the May 11 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that eating well contributes to a reduced risk of hearing loss among women. The study was conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and examined the relationship between hearing loss and three diets: The Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).

Researchers followed 81,818 women for 22 years (1991-2013) and found that women who closely followed the AMED and DASH diets had about a 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss, compared to women who didn't follow these dietary guidelines. Additionally, a sub-cohort of 33,000 women who gave more detailed reports of hearing information as part of the study found that the amount of reduced risk of hearing loss could be greater than 30 percent and also relate to the AHEI-2010 diet.

The AMED diet features extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and moderate intake of alcohol. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, is moderate in dairy, meat, poultry and fish, and is low in fats, oils and sweets. The AHEI-2010 shares components of both of these diets. 

The authors of the study state that more research needs to be done, but that based on these findings they can conclude that, "Adherence to healthful dietary patterns is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women, and consuming a healthy diet may be helpful in reducing the risk of acquired hearing loss."

You can read the full study here

Interested in this topic? Read our other blog post, "Nutrition & Hearing: Top Foods to Consume and Avoid."

 

Research Watch: First-In-Human Safety Study for Hearing Restoration

 Image credit: University of Virginia Health System

Image credit: University of Virginia Health System

The loss of inner ear hair cells is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Once damaged (due to loud noises, trauma, aging and other factors), these hair cells cannot grow back, which causes permanent hearing loss. U.S.-based biotech company Frequency Therapeutics is trying to change that. Last month, the company successfully completed the first-in-human study of FX-322, a Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA™) regenerative medicine aimed at creating new inner ear hair cells in the cochlea.

FX-322 previously worked at restoring hearing in animals. This first-in-human study was to prove the safety and tolerability of it. Nine adults with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss who were scheduled to receive a cochlear implant in the 24 hours following receiving FX-322 were enrolled in the study. The success of this trial means that future trials may take place in patients with moderate hearing loss who are not candidates for the cochlear implant and whose hearing can be studied over time. 

You can read more about this study here. We're unsure of the timeframe - it could be years - but we're encouraged for our patients about the research taking place.