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A Cure for Congenital Hearing Loss

Kazusaku Kamiya, MD, PhD, and his colleagues replicated cochlear cells that could potentially be used to replace faulty ones | The Hearing Journal

B0002149 Section through human cochlea
Image source: Prof. Andrew Forge – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows light microscope section through human cochlea.

The researchers from Jutendo University in Tokyo, Japan, produced induced pluripotent stem cells aimed at correcting this inherited condition, which causes disruption of gap junction plaques in the cochlea and leads to profound sensorineural hearing loss. They demonstrated in a mouse model that the stem-cell-derived gap junction cells were functional for forming gap junction intercellular communication networks and transient ion species typical of the developing cochlea. The authors of the study hoped the in vitrol models could be used to develop inner-ear therapies and drug screening that target GJB2-related hearing loss.

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Herbal medicines for the treatment of otitis media with effusion

Son, M.J. et al. (2016) BMJ Open. 6:e011250


Objectives :This systematic review aimed to assess the clinical evidence supporting the use of herbal medicines (HMs) for the treatment of otitis media with effusion (OME).


Conclusions: Despite some indications of potential symptom improvement, the evidence regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of HMs for OME is of poor quality and therefore inconclusive.

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Tinnitus and leisure noise

Warwick Williams & Lyndal Carter  Tinnitus and leisure noise  International Journal Of Audiology. Published online: 16 Nov 2016

sound-1781569_1280Objective: To study the relationship of life-time noise exposure and experience of tinnitus.

Design: Audiometric measures included otoscopy, pure tone air- and bone-conduction hearing threshold levels (HTL) and otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Participants completed questionnaires including demographic information, past hearing health, history of participation in loud leisure activities, and attitudes to noise.

Study sample: A representative sample (1435) of the young (11–35 years old) Australian population.

Results: Of the sample, 63% indicated they experienced tinnitus in some form. There was no correlation of tinnitus experience with HTL or OAE amplitudes. Although median octave band HTLs for those who experienced tinnitus “all the time” were slightly higher for those who did not, neither group exhibited HTLs outside clinically-normal values. Of those who experienced tinnitus a direct correlation was found between frequency of experience of tinnitus and increasing cumulative, life-time noise exposure. Those who experienced tinnitus were more likely to report noticing deterioration in their hearing ability over time and to report difficulty hearing in quiet and/or noisy situations.

Conclusions: Experience of tinnitus was found throughout this young population but not associated with HTLs or variation in OAE amplitudes. Males experienced ‘permanent’ tinnitus at significantly greater rate than females.

Hearing loss in children with otitis media with effusion

Cai, T & McPherson, B. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 14 Nov 2016


Objectives: Otitis media with effusion (OME) is the presence of non-purulent inflammation in the middle ear. Hearing impairment is frequently associated with OME. Pure tone audiometry and speech audiometry are two of the most primarily utilised auditory assessments and provide valuable behavioural and functional estimation on hearing loss. This paper was designed to review and analyse the effects of the presence of OME on children’s listening abilities.

Conclusions: OME imposes a series of disadvantages on hearing sensitivity and speech perception in children. Further studies investigating the full range of frequency-specific pure tone thresholds, and that adopt standardised speech test materials are advocated to evaluate hearing related disabilities with greater comprehensiveness, comparability and enhanced consideration of their real life implications.

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Investigating the Effects of Music-Based Sound Therapy on Treating Tinnitus

Li, S-A. et al. (2016) Audiology & Neurotology. 21(5) pp. 296-304


Objective: This blinded, randomized controlled trial assessed the effectiveness of a personalized, spectrally altered music-based sound therapy over 12 months of use.

Method: Two groups of participants (n = 50) were randomized to receive either altered or unaltered classical music. The treatment group received classical music that had been modified based on spectral alterations specific to their tinnitus characteristics. Tinnitus and psychological functioning were assessed at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months after initial testing using self-reports. Participants, investigators and research assistants were blinded from group assignment.

Results: Data from 34 participants were analyzed. The treatment group reported significantly lower levels of tinnitus distress (primary outcome, assessed using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory) than the control group throughout the follow-up period. Among the treatment group, there were statistically significant and clinically meaningful levels of reduction in tinnitus distress, severity, and functional impairment at 3- and 6-month follow-ups, which was sustained at the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusion: The personalized music therapy was effective in reducing subjective tinnitus and represents a meaningful advancement in tinnitus intervention.

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Onward Referral of Adults with Hearing Difficulty Directly Referred to Audiology Services

New Direct Referral Guidance from BAA

Image source: BAA

This document is intended to guide Audiologists in service planning and in making referrals for a medical or other professional opinion.

Along with “Guidelines for Primary Care: Direct Referral of Adults with Hearing Difficulty to Audiology Services (2016) 1 ”, this document replaces the earlier guidelines (BAA 20092 , TTSA 19893,4 ) and has been approved by the Board of the British Academy of Audiology.

This document comprises a set of criteria which define the circumstances in which an Audiologist in the UK should refer an adult with hearing difficulties for a medical or other professional opinion. If any of these are found, then the patient should be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, to their GP or to an Audiologist with an extended scope of practice. The criteria have been written for all adults (age 18+), but local specifications regarding age range for direct referral should be adhered to.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with “Guidelines for Primary Care: Direct Referral of Adults with Hearing Difficulty to Audiology Services (2016) 1 ”. Audiology services are expected to make reasonable efforts to make local GPs aware of this guidance and support their understanding of its application.

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