Research shows cell damage leads to hearing loss

Aug 29, 2012 in Hearing Protection

Research shows cell damage leads to hearing loss

New research carried out at the University of Leicester has identified just how listening to loud music affects hearing.

Scientists from the university have discovered that loud music can cause damage to the coating of nerve cells, which, in turn, can lead to temporary deafness and hearing loss.

Indeed, it was revealed that earphones or headphones on personal music players can reach noise levels similar to those of jet engines.

All noises that register louder than 110 decibels are known to cause hearing problems and can lead to a need for digital hearing aids to cope with problems such as tinnitus, but this study is the first to realise that underlying cell damage is also a problem.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the study could prove vital when it comes to understanding more about what causes hearing loss.

University of Leicester researcher Dr Martine Hamann, of the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, said: "The research allows us to understand the pathway from exposure to loud noises to hearing loss.

"Dissecting the cellular mechanisms underlying this condition is likely to bring a very significant healthcare benefit to a wide population.

"The work will help prevention as well as progression into finding appropriate cures for hearing loss."

Nerve cells responsible for relaying electrical signals from the ears to the brain contain a coating called the myelin sheath.

This allows electrical signals to travel along the cell but researchers found that exposure to noises over 110 decibels can remove the coating from these cells.

While the sheath can reform and the cells can function again, it's still advisable to ensure you're not causing yourself damage by listening to excessively loud music.

If you are concerned that you may be losing your hearing, come along for a free hearing test with us.