A study has recently been conducted at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary looking into the effects of a lack of sound exposure on mice. The study has found that a continuous lack of exposure to sound is associated with permanent hearing loss in mice. Conductive hearing loss may be temporary, however it can cause sound deprivation and may reoccur for a number of reasons.
If left untreated, chronic conductive hearing loss—which can be caused by recurrent ear infections, earwax blockage and otosclerosis that impair sound transmission from the ear canal to the inner ear—may contribute to irreversible cochlear damage, according to lead study author Stéphane F. Maison, a researcher in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.
Stéphane F. Maison and his team have been studying a group of mice with chronic conductive hearing loss in one ear for over a year and their research has been published in the journal PLoS One. Their research has documented significant changes to the inner ear of these mice.
We observed dramatic changes in the inner ear—notably, a significant loss of the synaptic connections through which the sensory cells send their electrical signals to the brain, Maison says. The study results suggest that sound deprivation itself could cause damage to the inner ear in a manner similar to age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.
Middle ear infections such as glue ear are common in younger children due to shape of the Eustachian tube within their ear. Often these infections are not picked up and be recurrent causing temporary hearing loss. The findings of this study highlight the importance of immediate treatment of middle ear conditions, which cause temporary hearing loss to eliminate the possibility of further impact on the persons hearing ability. Researchers involved in the study have also suggested that audiologists and physicians should advocate for early intervention and treatment of middle-ear conditions, which can cause chronic conductive hearing loss.