The Worldwide Problem of Hearing Loss
For millions of Americans, silence is overtaking sound. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in the elderly, and due to excessive exposure to noise, it is a growing health concern for all generations. Hearing impairment can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, cognitive difficulties and a host of other psychosocial challenges. It is estimated that by the year 2050, more than 900 million people worldwide will be hearing impaired, which, if untreated, also has significant implications for both the economy and the healthcare industry.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form, and it occurs from damage to the inner ear's sensory cells. At birth, we have approximately 30,000 receptor cells for sound called hair cells. Hair cells connect to auditory nerve fibers that inform the brain to produce the sensation of hearing. When hair cells or auditory nerve fibers are damaged-through aging, loud noises, or drug agents like antibiotics or chemotherapies-hearing becomes impaired.
Treatments for sensorinueral hearing loss are limited to prosthetic devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. While these devices often make dramatic improvements in our patients' quality of life, we are in relentless pursuit of the ideal: prevent hearing loss from occurring and restore natural hearing when it does occur.