Secretion Secrets: Things You Didn’t Know About Earwax

Story at-a-glance 

Earwax is a self-cleaning agent for your ears where it helps slow the growth of bacteria and prevent dirt from entering your ear Continue reading

Simple Vitamin May Be Silver Bullet for Autism

It used to be that “ten fingers and ten toes” was the barometer for whether a baby was born healthy. But the more we learn about autism, the better we understand that babies are often born with difficult, life-altering ailments that are much tougher to see at first glance.

Needless to say, if science could discover a silver bullet for preventing autism, Continue reading

The Hidden Deficiency Zapping Your Energy and Brainpower

Unfortunately, many of us are familiar with the hallmark signs of aging: declining strength and energy, brain fog and “senior moments,” irritability, difficulty sleeping, hearing and vision loss…the list goes on and on. Most people either accept these things as “just part of getting older,” or take whatever drugs their doctors prescribe in the hopes of feeling better. But guess what? I have some Continue reading

Turn Down the Volume to Lift Your Health

Medical research has uncovered a danger to your health that can increase blood pressure, boost the chance of a heart attack or stroke, cause tumors, result in insomnia, impair work performance, raise your stress level and lead to hearing loss. The menace: The volume control on your iPod or MP3 player as well as the traffic outside your window. Our noisy world is threatening our well-being in frightening ways. Continue reading

Revolutionary Biodegradable Pellet Targets Glue Ear Infection

A revolutionary biodegradable pellet which slowly releases antibiotics into the middle ear could transform the lives of thousands of children who suffer from glue ear.

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have developed the tiny controlled-release antibiotic pellet which can be implanted in the middle ear during surgery to fit grommets, or small ventilation tubes. Over a period of three weeks it will release effective quantities of antibiotics to target any infection which can, in up to 20 per cent of cases, result in children having to return for a second and sometimes a third operation.

The team has been led by John Birchall, Professor of Otorhinolaryngology,  Continue reading

Protect Yourself Against Hearing Loss

It’s estimated that 10 million Americans suffer with noise-induced hearing loss. In fact, noise is one of the most common occupational hazards today, with as many as 30 million Americans being exposed to harmful noise levels at work.

 We register sound through little hairs that vibrate in our inner ears in response to different noises. When these hairs are exposed to a sudden burst of very loud noise or to a steady stream of fairly loud noise, they can get damaged, resulting in hearing loss.

 Sound pressure is measured in decibels (dB). Here are some everyday sounds and their average decibel rankings:

 Sound Decibels (db) 

Very faint, rustling leaves 5

Whisper 20

Rainfall 50

Typical speech 60

Washing machine 75

Busy city traffic 85

Hair dryer 90

Leaf blower, rock concert, chainsaw 110

Ambulance, jack hammer 120

Jet plane from 100 feet 130

Fireworks, gunshot 140

12-gauge shotgun 165

 How loud is too loud?

 Steady exposure to noise that reaches 85 dB can produce hearing loss. A one-time exposure to very loud noises like a gunshot at 140 dB can also cause hearing loss. Listening to a discman or mp3 player at a standard volume level of 5 for 15 minutes a day is enough to cause permanent damage.

 Since it’s not practical to walk around with a meter that allows you to measure dB, a good rule of thumb is that if you have to raise your voice in order to be heard by a person who is a couple of feet away, the noise level is considered hazardous.

 Another practical measure is to carefully observe for ringing in your ears or if sounds feel flat or dull after leaving a noisy environment. If either of these conditions are present, you were probably exposed to a hazardous level of noise.

 If you are exposed to potentially harmful noises at work or home, I recommend that you strongly consider using expandable or pre-molded earplugs. You can find them at almost any pharmacy.

 An alternative is to use earmuffs, although they might not provide the same level of protection as earplugs that sit snug in your external ear canal.

 If you have children who like to listen to music on their mp3 players or in their cars, please share this article with them so that they’re aware of how their choices today may affect them in the future.

New Gene Linked to Progressive Hearing Loss Identified

LA JOLLA – Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a gene responsible for progressive hearing loss.

The has team found a gene, called Loxhd1, which is necessary for maintaining proper functioning hair cells in the inner ear.

However, mutations in this gene can lead to degradation of the hair cells and a disruption of the process that enables hearing.

“It is thought that mutations in several hundred genes can lead to deafness,” said team leader Ulrich Mueller, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.

“However, for many forms of deafness, we don’t know what effects the genes have. In this new research, we have linked a previously uncharacterized gene to deafness, first in mice and then in humans,” said Mueller.

During the study, researchers used a technique called forward genetics in their quest to better understand the genetic basis of hearing and hearing loss.

In forward genetics, scientists make mutations at random in germ cells, screen the resulting models for physical characteristics of interest (in this case hearing impairment), then amplify these traits through the breeding of several generations.

The gene responsible for the trait is then identified through positional cloning.

In this case, the scientists were able to generate a new mouse line with hearing impairment that they called samba and then clone the gene responsible, Loxhd1, which had never before been associated with deficits in hearing.

When the mice inherited two copies of the mutated gene, they were profoundly deaf shortly after birth.

This is the third hearing-related gene that the Mueller lab has discovered.

“In humans, the prevailing difficulty is progressive hearing loss,” he said.

“As you age, you lose your hearing slowly. Since this mutation can lead to progressive hearing loss, it provides us with more information on the genetic underpinnings of this condition and gives us clues as to how it might be corrected,” he added.

The study appears in American Journal of Human Genetics, a publication of Cell Press.