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Chronic lack of sound is found to cause irreversible damage to the inner ear

11 Jan 2016

Scientists at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have discovered that the inner ear is irreparably damaged when denied sounds of any sort.

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Conducted on adult mice, the research involved observing mice who were experiencing chronic conductive hearing loss in one ear. In humans, this involves illnesses such as ear infections, otosclerosis, and earwax blockages.

In the ears that were afflicted, scientists saw that the synaptic connections within the inner ear began to degrade quickly, no longer allowing the sensory cells within the ear to transmit information to the brain.

The results are of concern for those who might not choose to see a doctor if only one of their ears was experiencing issues.

The leader of the study, Dr Stephane Maison, said: "After a year of sound deprivation, we observed dramatic changes in the inner ear - notably, a significant loss of the synaptic connections through which the sensory cells send their electrical signals to the brain.

"Although these conditions are routinely treated in industrial societies, a number of patients choose not to receive treatment, particularly when their medical condition affects only one ear."

Sources

https://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2015/11/sound-deprivation-leads-to-irreversible-hearing-loss

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0142341

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