Thanks to researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, there is now a new and much more accurate way to identify hearing loss, especially hearing loss that has previously gone undiagnosed by traditional hearing tests.
It is estimated that over 37 million American adults have some level of hearing loss, but according to the results of this new hearing test, that number could be much higher. Those affected by hidden hearing loss can now receive earlier diagnosis and treatment to prevent further loss and related health issues.
Initial research results for the revolutionary new hearing test, recently published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, give hope to many now dealing with low levels of hearing loss and receiving normal results from traditional hearing tests. Conducted by Leslie R. Bernstein, professor of neuroscience and surgery, and Constantine Trahiotis, emeritus professor of neuroscience and surgery, the study and hearing test focus more closely on binaural hearing. That is, how we hear sounds across both ears instead of just one. This more in-depth level of testing is showing promising results!
During the study, researchers worked with 31 adults between the ages of 30 to 67, all with normal or near-normal audiograms, to study their binaural hearing. The process of binaural hearing is “an important means of separating target signals from noise and competing sources.” In other words, it plays an important role in hearing sounds such as conversation, especially when background noise is involved.
“Our study shows that our novel binaural hearing test can help early identify vulnerable populations of listeners, and perhaps help determine when critical interventions are warranted,” Trahiotis said in a press release.
Untreated hearing loss has long been linked to a variety of health concerns including an increased risk of cognitive decline, reduced social interaction and the stress and health risks that can trigger, and a higher risk of depression. Early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss are important to not only minimize the advancement of hearing impairment but also maintain our total health and well-being.
“Our research team has been working hard to define what normal human hearing really is,” says Trahiotis. “Greater understanding of normal hearing and the early detection of any underlying slight hearing deficits in supposed ‘normal’ listeners could help practitioners have a better chance of identifying ways to slow the progression of debilitating hearing loss in one’s lifetime, and even possibly finding future ways to restore it.”
The possibilities of this new hearing test and how it can help millions of Americans affected by hearing loss is exciting, to say the least! While further study on a larger scale is sure to be on the horizon, these initial results show great promise for widespread use. Hearing health professionals will now have an even more accurate tool to diagnosis and treat even the smallest level of hearing loss.
If you’re concerned about a loss of hearing, whether it is difficulty hearing conversations in a busy restaurant, ringing in the ears or something more, contact your hearing health professional today for more information about a hearing test and treatment options such as hearing aids.
Hearing loss may seem like a black and white issue—either you have hearing loss or you have normal hearing. You would think hearing loss would