Researchers have identified a protein found in the blood that could be used to identify if someone really is going deaf. There are various causes of hearing loss, including age, viruses and trauma. Yet while a decline in hearing can sometimes be very quick, in most cases it is gradual and too subtle for most people to notice. It is often not picked up until it is quite severe, by which time other problems such as social isolation, depression and tinnitus — (a ringing in the ears common among those with hearing loss — may have set in).
Adults with mild hearing loss of between 26 and 40 decibels may still hear reasonably well in one-to-one conversation but miss words if someone speaks quietly or if there is background noise. The researchers believe detectable levels of prestin may be released at a far earlier stage, perhaps when less than 1 per cent of the hairs have been lost.The test is due to be trialed on humans soon. Professor Jaydip Ray, a consultant neurologist at the Regional Department of Neurology in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, called the blood test ‘a very exciting development’. ‘If this becomes established and widely available, it may provide an objective way to detect, measure and monitor common hearing disorders like never before,’ he says. Meanwhile, the same scientists are working on a blood test to identify benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV, the most common form of vertigo.
Once diagnosed, BPPV can often be treated by a series of head movements conducted by a doctor to help move the crystals back into the correct place. Human trials start soon.
Source: The Daily Mirror UK
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