We have all been warned on numerous occasions that exposure to loud noise over a period of time can damage our hearing.
New research however has found that attending just one loud concert, football match or nightclub could be enough to greatly damage the nerve fibres in the ear that send electrical signals to the brain and allow people to hear.
Neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have found that the effects can leave people struggling to listen to others in settings where background noise is quite loud. These include restaurants, bars and other areas of common use.
The findings are based on several years of research that involved testing the effects of loud music on mice, guinea pigs and chinchillas.
Dr Charles Liberman and Dr Sharon Kujawa who lead the study found that exposure to one-off noises can perish the ends of the nerve fibres and this destroys the connection to the hair cells across the synapses. Every time someone is exposed to a loud noise, their nerve fibres wither a little bit more.
Although this research was conducted only on animals, further trials are now being carried out at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre to study hearing damage in war veterans.
In the meantime, Dr Liberman and Dr Kujawa will be working on how to restore damaged nerve fibres using protein injections. They hope this treatment will improve hearing damage by encouraging the perished fibres to develop new synapses.
Tinnitus is a common hearing problem that can result from exposure to loud noise. For many sufferers it can be an extremely difficult condition to live with, but hypnotherapy can help to alleviate symptoms. For more information, please see our hypnotherapy for tinnitus page.
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