Can a Cure for Hearing Loss Be Found? New Research Points to a Possible Answer

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By Paul Harrison / LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger

There are a great number of things that can cause hearing loss. Injury, noise trauma, medication and plain old wear and tear on the various parts of the ear are all well documented causes.

Researchers from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Monash University and the otolaryngology department at the University of Melbourne have conducted a study into other causes of hearing loss. Specifically, what can cause someone much younger to show the same symptoms as someone with normal age related hearing loss.

Previous research has shown that age related hearing loss presents itself in most adults after the age of 60, but natural wear and tear shouldn’t be an issue for someone in their teens or 20s. This study built on previous research into mutations in the genes that can cause this type of problem.

A Closer Look at Our Genes and SERPINB6

In 2010, a genetic mutation was found that caused hearing loss so they began to investigate this mutation further. Recent discoveries have shown that this particular mutation causes the inhibitor known as SERPINB6 to malfunction. This inhibitor is necessary to block a certain enzyme created by the body which destroys proteins. Without this inhibitor, the deterioration of hearing is greatly accelerated although the exact reason is still unknown.

The lead author of this study, Dr. Justin Tan of the University of Melbourne, stated that “individuals who lack both copies of this good gene were reported to lose their hearing from 20 years of age.”

In order to see these results more clearly they began conducting tests involving this mutation. These tests were carried out on infant mice who were artificially induced with this condition shortly after birth. When the mice reached three weeks of age they were tested again and the results showed that they had begun to exhibit signs of hearing loss. In human terms this would be the equivalent of a teenager developing the condition. Further studies were carried out as the mice aged which showed that, just as in humans, the hearing loss continued to increase as time passed. When the mice were examined under a microscope the researchers discovered that the tiny sensory hair cells in the inner ear had actually died.

These cells are essential for normal hearing as the hairs vibrate when sound enters the ear. These vibrations are turned into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain and processed as sound. This is not the first time that researchers have seen mutations that affect the sensory hair cells; they have long been aware of this problem. It was the effects that they witnessed in neighboring cells that proved to be the biggest discovery.

This particular mutation had also killed the group of cells known as fibrocytes which are equally as important for sending electrical signals to the brain. Although they had seen effects on these cells cause hearing loss in humans before, it was very uncommon.

The researchers are excited about this discovery as the link between the SERPINB6 inhibitor and the cell deterioration has provided further insight into the genetic causes of hearing loss. Dr. Tan was quoted to say, “This is an exciting discovery for our hearing because the role of SERPINB6 as an inhibitor is now being unravelled.”

Read the University of Melburne’s official news release about the study.

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Paul Harrison has written numerous hearing-related articles for Your Hearing. Over the last few months, he has covered topics including ways to naturally improve hearing, the different types of hearing aids and the benefits of using a hearing aid.

Readers—Do You Know the Cause of Your Hearing Loss? Please Share Your Comments.

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27 thoughts on “Can a Cure for Hearing Loss Be Found? New Research Points to a Possible Answer

  1. I was diagnosed with hearing loss in my 20’s. Reason why is still unknown, other than possibly related withinn the family on my Dad’s side, as I remember my Dad mentioning about not hearing well in his right ear. (I am deaf in both ears but my right ear is the worser ear.) I found my half Sister, and a half brother had problems hearing wise with their right ear.

  2. I am 51 and was diagnosed with sensorineural bilateral hearing loss at age 35. I saw five specialists. NONE could tell me the cause of the hearing loss only that it was progressive, bilateral and nerve damage. Along with the hearing loss comes severe tinnitus. I finally just accepted I have it, cause unknown, and moved on. I’m happy to read this article about the mutant gene as I didn’t know about that at all.

  3. My progressive hearing loss is possibly caused by the autoimmune disorder that I have. Now, after 10 years , i have been exhibiting symptoms of meneires disease . At this point I’m kind of giving up on the cause because every physician and audiologist that I’ve gone to says my hearing loss is permanent and progressive. My dentist even gave me info to participate in a study using tuning forks to stimulate the nerves in the ear. The research was being done by the makers of Sonicare toothbrushes . I declined .

  4. Hey Shanna, I have a OLD neighbor in my apartments who wants to learn sign language. She has a friend who is both deaf AND blind. Can you help? Love and hugs from Sally Danley…. I’m having computer problems and haven’t been able to get on my website all week.

  5. This is interesting but how would you find out if this is the reason for someone’s hearing loss? I believe mine was caused by not taking steps to protect my hearing when I went to about 50 different rock concerts in my teens and twenties. I can’t believe today that it didn’t register to my brain when my ears would ring for 2 – 3 days afterword, that maybe I was causing damage.
    If I could do it over I would have at least worn ear plugs. I used to laugh at people who did and say- They’re missing out on hearing “All” the sounds. Now I’m missing out on all my Grandchildren’s sounds and most women’s voices too!
    I wear hearing aids but I still face much difficulty with many voices.
    I do wonder though if I possibly suffer from this defect also as my dad and almost all his brothers wear hearing aids. I know they didn’t go to any rock concerts…lol.

  6. According to the doctors, it is impossible to say what caused my instant hearing loss, but probably an unknown virus. My only life change was that I had just switched prescriptions to cymbalta within two weeks off the hearing loss; they don’t list hearing side effects. I contacted the company anyway, so at least it started a possible paper trail. Like Steve said, not being proactive to protect my hearing when I was younger probably accounted for the hearing loss in the “good” ear. That information just wasn’t out there then and isn’t to the degree it should be today.

  7. When I was 19, I was told that I had a profound hearing loss in my right ear and a slight hearing loss in my left ear. Like many people who are first diagnosed with a hearing loss, I refused to wear hearing aides. It was not because I was worried about what others would think. I think I was just having a hard time accepting my fate. I cried, I cried, then I moved on.

    I went on about my life as if I did not have a disability. Went on to college, obtained a degree and two certificates. Became a published author. Never bothered to learn sign language.

    The doctors cannot understand my hearing loss. Their test results show that I am completely deaf, but I’m not. One would not know that I had a hearing loss unless I told them. I do not always have to read lips. I talk on the phone with my mother. I talk on the phone to certain friends. One time, during an examination, my mother called me. I asked the audiologist to excuse me, and answered the phone. He was shocked. The only time that I have a difficult time understanding is when I am watching television, or listening to music. I was diagnosed when I was 19. I am now 37.

    I have a few deaf friends that I met while working for the post office. I refused to only restrict my circle to people who are hearing impaired. I think that by hanging out with friends who do not have hearing disabilities, I learned to “dismiss” mines.

    I do not focus on my hearing loss. I live as if there is no tomorrow. I ask people to repeat themselves, if necessary, and just live. Have a blessed day.

  8. Tinsley,your problem is just the same as mine,i just have to accept it as fate,just remember,and always remember,God is there to wacth over you,and He is the one guiding you and us,and He has his own reason,above all,He’s never too late.

    • Acceptance Is The First Step Towards Moving On. Others Wonder About My Hearing Disability More Than I Do. God Has Really Been Good To Me. He Allows Me To Hear When I Need To. If I Am Doing Something In Accordance To Him, I Am Able To Hear Clearly. Like I Mentioned Before, The Doctors Are Baffled. I Wanted To Work In Law Enforcement, I Failed The Hearing Exams. Seven Years Later I Am A Author. I Actually Have 3 Books Out, Two Of Which Are Under A Pen Name. I Will Be Releasing 3 Books Under A Major Publishing Company. Had I Not SuffeRed A Hearing Loss, I Would Not Be A Author. I Am Also Returning To School To Obtain A Crime Analyst Certificate, And A BS In Film, Television And Theatre.

      I Plan To Live My Life To The Fullest, Working In Every Field My Heart Desires, Until I Return To Dust. The Sky Is Not The Limit. Man Has Walked On The Moon. 🙂

  9. Mix 1 teaspoon or 1 full tablespoon like I do of cinnamon and honey in equal proportions and take once in the morning and once before bed time to cure hearing loss. Remember that natural cures are the real cures. Don’t believe anyone who tells you nature has no cure for your problems. (Fully recommend this if you are able to).

    There is a cure for every disease, you just have to find it. Medicine that are made by chemicals only makes things worse. Again, not all doctors and scientist are always right. Research can have faults as well.

    New research done that grew hair cells in the hair to reverse hearing loss:
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/science/drug-which-makes-inner-ears-hairier-1527096

  10. Hello, My name is Pete and I am from Sweden.
    I am in total chock and on the edge of a breakdown right now.
    Here is my story:
    Friday Night the 24/1 (2weeks ago) I was watching TV and suddenly I felt a pressure
    over my left ear, I went to bed thinking this is gone tomorrow.
    The next morning I woke up without any hearing on my left ear.
    I went to the local hospital emergency room and a doctor looked into my
    ear, she told me I had an era infection.
    She subscribed penicilin for 5 days together with cortison eardrops.
    Wednesday 29/1 I went back to the emergency telling them the ear is
    not better, I got to see a new doctor and even he told me that there
    is still an infection. He said there are fluid behind the ear drum and
    gave me another 10 day penicilin cure together with cortison nose
    spray.
    On Monday morning 3/2 I was suppose to take a vacation trip and fly out of
    the country and the doctor told me not to worry about the flight, just make sur to
    prepare with alot of nose drops/spray.
    2 days later still no change and I wanted a third opinion before my 10 hour flight, I went
    friday (31/1) afternoon to the special ear clinik at our local hospital.
    They where closed at that time but Let me inside to see a ear specialist.
    She (a specialist in ears) tells me that there is no infection in my ear and that I can stop eating the penicilin. She tell me that I possible have something called sudden deafness (that my hearing might not come back) and tell me that I have to start with a 10 day high dose of cortisone cure.
    I went into a total chock and had off course to cancel my trip!
    Today aprox 18 days later, the hearing is just about the same (can hear very very little and it sounds like the soung go thrue sandwich paper)!
    I alot have alot of tinnitus and I am extremely sensitive on
    bouth ears, but specificly my other ear!
    I also have very much pressure, pain and headdake.
    After an hearing test at the hospital, they could confirm a huge hear loss,
    Yesterday I made an MRI scan but have not received the answer yet!
    Is there anyone here that can help me with some answers for my questions?
    Here in Sweden we have good health care, but it is very very difficult to get information in this area.
    What rea causing this sudden hearloss?
    Is it really no way to cure or calm this?
    I might not after all is such strong guy as I always have been thinking… and my mind is falling over thinking in directions I never had before. Will the rest of my life be like this? This pain, tittitus and social collapse is driving me mad and over one night I went from a happy guy to a nervous wreck!
    Look forward to hear from all you experienced persons that can give me some info!
    Many thanks and sorry for not the best English spelling!
    Pete

    • Pete – I highly encourage you to keep reaching out to hearing loss and tinnitus organizations for support and information. In the United States, there is the Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org), Assocation of Late-Deafened Adults (www.alda.org), and the American Tinnitus Association (www.ata.org). Online, there is SayWhatClub.com and DeafandHOH.com. I have found that reaching out to individuals with hearing loss and tinnitus can be a lifesaver with sudden hearing loss. Please keep us posted.

  11. Pete, I have done a lot of research since losing my hearing. Yours was VERY sudden. In doing resrsrch, I found that a brain tumor can cause a sudden hearing loss. Yours happened too quickly. Wait for the results of the MRI. Also have them test your blood for everything. Certain diseases can cause a hearing loss. The symptoms you have described sounds like something is going on in your head. I will be praying for you.

  12. My brother is suffering from hearing loss from a young age, He couldn’t cope up with it for a long time. He is now using an open fit model hearing aid from Hearing Solutions, Ontario, but he still feels shy to be social. He is looking for a cure or a technology that can help him from hearing problems and also get rid of his aid. I’ve heard of cochlear implants, but don’t have much knowledge about it. Do you know anything about it? Is it really helpful?

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