New research developments in tinnitus, noise-induced hearing loss

Photo credit: hov1s@ licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This quite technical article from a research group in Taiwan describes new research developments and remaining gaps in assessment, treatment, and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

To me, the most important information in the article is contained in two lines in the conclusion at the end of the paper:

All people are exposed to noise. However, while the pathogenesis of NIHL is complex, cochlear neuropathy is largely preventable.

I came to the same conclusion in a literature review that was presented at the 12th Congress of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise in Zurich in 2017.

And researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary recently came to the same conclusion analyzing human cochlear tissue and comparing changes found with ante-mortem hearing tests and exposure histories.

The authors of the article above state that “[s]tudies must continue to investigate ways to reduce NIHL,” but I would disagree with that statement. We have known for decades how to reduce and even prevent noise-induced hearing loss: avoid exposure to loud noise or wear hearing protection if you can’t.

Only about 8% of American adults reported using hearing protection when attending loud sporting or entertainment events. So studies about how to convince people to protect their hearing may be of some value, although regulation of product noise and use of noisy devices, as has been implemented in Europe, would be far more effective.

Because if a noise sounds loud, it is too loud, and your auditory health is at risk.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

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