Recent research has uncovered a link between two biomarkers and hidden hearing loss, which is a hearing disorder that cannot be detected using traditional hearing tests. This type of hearing loss is not yet well-understood by medical experts, so this study is significant for the advancement of this mysterious field.
What’s a Biomarker?
Before reviewing the study, it’s important to understand what a biomarker is. The term biomarker is short for “biological marker,” which is an objective measure that shows what is going on inside a cell or organism at a given moment. Biomarkers are often measured during routine physical appointments, like when your nurse takes your weight and blood pressure or when your doctor orders urine or blood testing.
Biomarkers can also be used to learn about the relationships between human biology, diseases and environmental exposures. For example, a biomarker can indicate whether exposure to vehicle exhaust leads to respiratory disorders for people living near Interstate 5.
What Researchers Have Found
This study, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, analyzed data from more than 100,000 patient records. They found that one in ten patients who had visited the university’s audiology clinic for hearing problems produced normal audiograms when tested.
Researchers brought 23 of these young and middle-age patients back in for further testing. The first test measured electrical signals from the surface of the ear in order to capture how the earliest stages of sound processing within the brain encode fluctuations in soundwaves. The second used special glasses to measure changes in pupil diameter while participants focused on a speaker as others talked in the background.
The combination of the results of these tests indicated which adults could follow speech in background noise and which adults couldn’t. This is big news for the field of audiology, as these results can help pave the way for future testing on hidden hearing loss.
“If our ability to converse in social settings is part of our hearing health, then the tests that are used have to go beyond the very first stages of hearing and more directly measure auditory processing in the brain,” explained senior study author Daniel B. Polley.
For more information about hidden hearing loss or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Elk Grove Hearing Care today.