Do you feel that you have poor hearing despite passing a hearing test? This phenomenon, known as hidden hearing loss, is not well-understood by researchers or medical professionals. However, two newly discovered biomarkers of brain function may be able to help with the identification and treatment of hidden hearing loss.
What Is a Biomarker?
Biomarker is short for “biological marker,” which is an objective measure that indicates what’s going on in a cell or in an organism at a given moment. Commonly measured biomarkers include your weight or blood pressure, and they can also come from labs ordered by a doctor like blood or urine tests.
Biomarkers are important in that they can serve as an early warning signal for potential health problems. As an example, having high cholesterol levels is a common biomarker that indicates you’re at risk for heart disease. High levels of lead in the bloodstream could indicate problems related to cognition or the nervous system.
Researchers can also use biomarkers to better understand the relationships between human biology, environmental exposures and diseases. For example, certain biomarkers can show that people with respiratory disorders living near Interstate 495 react poorly to vehicle exhaust.
What the Study Shows
The study was conducted by researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 patient records and found that one in ten patients who had visited the university’s audiologic clinic reported hearing problems but had a normal audiogram.
The researchers performed two tests on 23 young and middle-age adults who had passed hearing tests. The first test measured electrical signals from the surface of the ear in order to capture how the earliest stages of sound processing within the brain encode fluctuations in soundwaves. The second used special glasses to measure changes in pupil diameter while participants focused on a speaker as others talked in the background.
The data from these tests revealed which adults could and couldn’t understand speech in an environment with background noise. This is significant, as the results pave the way for future clinical tests on hidden hearing disorders. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Chelmsford Hearing Group today.