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New Discovery in Fruit Flies Holds Promise for Age-Related Hearing Loss Treatment

Hearing loss is more common than you may realize. In the United States, 1 in 5 people over the age of 12 have hearing loss of some kind. When combined with the children who have hearing loss, that makes for 48 million Americans with hearing loss. For those who are aged 65 to 74 years old, approximately one third suffer from hearing loss. The numbers are even greater among those who are older, with nearly half of adults over the age of 75 experiencing hearing loss. Around the world, nearly 477 million people have hearing loss.
With numbers like these, it is apparent that any research that could lead to better ways to treat and even prevent hearing loss is extremely important. Hearing loss is not just inconvenient; it can entirely change a person’s life. People with age-related hearing loss often experience social isolation, loneliness, trouble communicating, depression, anxiety, and dementia.
These statistics and the conditions linked to hearing loss are only a small piece of the reality of hearing loss. However, a new hope may be on the horizon, thanks to groundbreaking research conducted by a team of scientists at University College London (UCL).
The scientists recently published a study in Scientific Reports that shows their findings related to hearing loss—in fruit flies. Before you assume that fruit flies are too far removed from humans to provide any promising research in the field of hearing loss, think again. The fruit fly is a powerful tool in biology, and when it comes to hearing, a fruit fly’s ear shares many molecular similarities with that of a human. Up until now, however, no studies had examined a fruit fly’s hearing ability over its lifetime.
In this new study, the researchers found that the antennal ears of fruit flies also display age-related hearing loss. They also discovered that certain genes are responsible for the fruit fly’s hearing ability over its lifespan. These two discoveries are groundbreaking on their own—because humans also suffer from age-related hearing loss, and many scientists have tried to identify the genes that control hearing ability in humans. This demonstrates that fruit flies are an ideal tool for learning more about how hearing loss could be treated in humans.
The researchers at UCL did not stop at these two major discoveries. They also found a way to manipulate some of the genes responsible for maintaining hearing sensitivity. With these manipulations, the scientists could prevent the flies from experiencing age-related hearing loss.
Because of the similarities between the hearing structures and genes of fruit flies and humans, this new research promises to lead to many more discoveries that could change how hearing loss is treated in humans. With further research and testing, scientists and doctors may one day be able to make genetic adjustments in humans that would eliminate age-related hearing loss.
To learn more about this exciting new research and how the promise it holds for the future of hearing healthcare, we welcome you to contact our hearing practice today. We are eager to care for you!

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Why It’s Important to Always Wear Your Hearing Aids—Even At Home

If you are like most people in the world, you have probably spent a lot of time at home in the last few months. It seems that “normal life” grounded to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and since then, many of us have been spending more time than usual in our homes. All of the places we regularly go—gyms, stores and shopping centers, restaurants, salons, and even many workplaces—have been closed.
If you are a hearing aid user and have been spending a lot of time at home lately, you may be tempted to not wear your hearing aids as often. This may be especially true if you live by yourself. After all, hearing aids are used for communication, right? So, if you are staying home and have no one you need to communicate with, it might seem unnecessary to use your hearing aids.
The truth, however, is that you should continue wearing your hearing aids, even when you are at home alone. Here are just a few reasons why this is so important:

  • Hearing aids stimulate your brain.

Even if you are not leaving your house much, or perhaps especially if you are not leaving your house much, you want to continue to stimulate your brain.
In one study that followed 639 adults for almost 12 years, a research team at Johns Hopkins found that untreated mild hearing loss doubled a person’s risk for dementia. Those with untreated severe hearing loss were at even greater risk—they were 5 times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing.
Hearing the incidental sounds that happen in your home every day helps to keep your brain active and processing sound. Even if you are not communicating directly with anyone on a daily basis, wearing your hearing aids will help to activate your brain.

  • Hearing aids enable you to connect.

Even if you are not seeing people face-to-face much these days, your hearing aids can still help you stay connected. If you have a phone call or video call with a friend or family member, your hearing aids will enable you to better communicate with them.
Many modern hearing aids can also connect to devices like smartphones, tablets, and TVs. This allows you to stay up to date on the latest news and information that you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, if you have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, you can use them to directly connect to phone calls, FaceTime calls, video chats.
You might be distanced geographically from your friends and family at this time, but that does not mean you cannot communicate and connect with them!

  • Hearing aids are essential to your safety.

You are much better able to hear alarms and sirens when you are wearing your hearing aids. This makes it important to your safety—and the safety of others—that you continue wearing your hearing aids at home.
Plus, there are some sounds around your home that you are not sirens or alarms, but they might be important to your safety and the safe functioning of your home. If you are not wearing your hearing aids, you might miss these noises, such as an unusual noise being made by a home appliance or your car.
Wearing your hearing aids is important to your health and safety, even when you are at home. To learn more about the benefits of using hearing aids, we invite you to contact our hearing practice today. We look forward to caring for you!