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New Direction for Research on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur after an accident or over time. Many senior citizens realize that their hearing is not what it used to be and sense that they are not hearing every sound or pitch. For many workers who are exposed to loud noise over the course of their career, new developments in the battle against hearing loss are bringing hope. Researchers are taking a new direction when studying noise-induced hearing loss in hopes to bring some hope and relief to those who suffer hearing loss.

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Workers in construction, industry, or bars and other loud environments could be exposed to levels of noise that threaten the loss of hearing. Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand the gravity and impact of hearing loss. We are dedicated to helping workers’ and their families collect compensation and find relief after permanent hearing loss. Our legal team is also abreast of research that may be a step in the right direction for treating and repairing noise-induced hearing loss.

Scientists have uncovered a genetic mutation in lab mice that controls the receptor for a hormone in the inner ear. The hormones are received by the organ in the inner ear known as the cochlea which uses sensory hairs to detect vibrations. The organ then sends the auditory signals to the brain. If the receptors are turned off (due to mutation) the mice suffered temporary hearing loss after exposure to loud noise. Mice with this genetic mutation also were more likely to suffer from permanent, long-term hearing loss and noise damage.

The new research suggests the possibility of a mechanism to prevent noise damage. Even though there haven’t been any direct medical applications or devices stemming from the research, it does lend itself to the potential for future treatments and hearing loss remedies. Researchers consider two kinds of hearing loss after loud exposures–temporary and permanent. After uncovering this mutation it seems that the two may overlap because the louder the noise, the more damage you can suffer.

Researchers are urging young people to wear protection when at concerts or in a loud work environment to prevent long-term hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur overtime as a result of the cumulative impact of exposure to loud noise. The research could prevent hearing loss for musicians, factory workers and others who suffer long-term exposure.

The publication of this research has followed another recent study that promises a path for restoring hearing loss permanently. Past research demonstrated that once sensory hair cells died off, hearing is permanently damaged. According to this new promising study, using stem cells to develop into new sensory hairs can restore hearing. Scientists at Harvard Medical School are using an experimental drug that prevents a protein from keeping stem cells dormant.

Despite medical advancements and research in hearing loss, workers who are exposed to loud noise should invest in ear plugs and ensure that employers are creating a safe noise environment. In the event of hearing loss, a worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.

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, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 6, 2013
Is the Drop In Work Injuries Really What it Seems?, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 21, 2013