Hearing Loss

Healthy headphone use: How loud and how long?

Headphones and earbuds are nearly ubiquitous, but how often do people think about whether or not they are using them safely? Knowing about safe listening levels and safe length of listening time will help people protect themselves while using their listening devices.

Chemotherapy and hearing loss: Monitoring is essential

James Naples, MD

Contributor

One of the possible side effects of chemotherapy that is not as well-known is hearing loss. If you are going to undergo chemotherapy, you should have your hearing tested before and after the course of treatment.

Acoustic neuroma: A slow-growing tumor that requires specialized care

James Naples, MD

Contributor

An acoustic neuroma is a tumor in the part of the brain responsible for hearing and balance. While the symptoms can be bothersome, these tumors are not cancerous and they grow slowly, allowing time for consultation with specialists and treatment planning.

When should I be concerned about ringing in my ears?

James Naples, MD

Contributor

Tinnitus is a term used to describe a ringing or noise in the ears. While not usually a serious medical condition, the distress it produces can often disrupt people’s lives. Understanding the condition and its symptoms will help determine how best to treat it.

Hearing loss may affect brain health

James Naples, MD

Contributor

Research into a possible connection between age-related hearing loss and brain function found that there is an association, with subjects 50 or older showing signs of cognitive decline even before reaching clinically defined hearing loss.

Personal sound amplification products: For some, an affordable alternative to hearing aids

Personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are devices that provide some measure of hearing assistance, less than that of a full-fledged hearing aid but at a more reasonable price, that may encourage more people to accept hearing assistance and to do so starting younger.

3 reasons to leave earwax alone

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Many people don’t realize that cleaning their ears with a cotton swab is not a good idea. Doing so can be harmful, and the ears are self-cleaning anyway.

Now hear this, men: Hearing aids can be a life changer

Matthew Solan

Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Many older men need hearing aids, but are reluctant to wear them. Because hearing loss is associated with greater risks for certain conditions including depression, anyone who suspects their hearing is deteriorating should have a hearing test. It is important to note that hearing aids make sounds louder, but not clearer. There are other ways to improve communication with or without a hearing aid.

Good hearing essential to physical and emotional well-being

Charlotte S. Yeh, MD

Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc., Guest Contributor

Hearing loss is common among older people, causing a profound impact on a person’s quality of life by creating a sense of isolation that affects overall health. In most cases, hearing problems can be alleviated relatively easily, restoring one’s sense of connection to the world.

Hearing loss may be linked to mental decline

Howard LeWine, M.D.

Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Loss of hearing represents more than just difficulty hearing sounds. It can lead to social isolation and depression. A new study suggests that hearing loss may also be linked to loss of memory and thinking skills. In a study published online yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins researchers found that declines in thinking skills happened faster during a six-year period among people with hearing loss than among those without it. Among the nearly 2,000 volunteers, all over age 70, those with hearing loss we also likely to develop “cognitive impairment,” defined as a substantial reduction in the score on a key test called the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. The researchers estimated that it would take a hearing-impaired older adult just under eight years, on average, to develop cognitive impairment compared with 11 years for those with normal hearing. This new study shows an association. It does not prove that hearing loss causes a decline in thinking skills. The work also raises a huge question: can treating hearing loss prevent or slow an age-related decline in brain function?