Research and studies are continuing to uncover medical issues that cause hearing loss. Some issues still go unanswered, however technological and medical advancements are being made every year to help prevent hearing loss.
Studies have been carried out into sensorineural hearing loss, a condition that results from damage to the minuscule hair cells in the inner ear that are connected to the auditory nerve, as opposed to conductive hearing loss, which results from sounds not being able to pass between the outer and inner areas of the ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be reversible after brief exposure to loud noises, but these very same noises have been found to cause irreversible damage to the hair cells and cochlea-based nerve cells with prolonged exposure. This can impair a person's ability to differentiate between noises in crowds or loud locations.
A type of antibiotic known as aminoglycoside has been recently altered by scientists to make it safer for patients. Previously, the drug has been known to cause side effects such as hearing loss and kidney damage, and are used to treat serious infections and sepsis.
The Stroud News and Journal explains how these serious side effects occur in approximately 20% to 60% of the population that takes these medications. At present, the drugs damage the hair cells in the inner ear, so much so that they result in a loss of hearing. Although it has only been tested in mice, the alterations to the drugs make it unable to do this, while still targeting the problem being treated.
Professor Anthony Ricci of Stanford University said: "If we can eventually prevent people from going deaf from taking these antibiotics, in my mind, we will have been successful. Our goal is to replace the existing aminoglycosides with ones that aren't toxic."
Dr Alan Cheng, a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, added: "When a drug causes hearing loss it is devastating, and it's especially disturbing when this happens to a young child as they rely on hearing to acquire speech."