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Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A new app can help determine how well your ears are aging

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Loud sounds at work or play can cause the temporary sensations of muffled ears and tinnitus or ringing of the ears. These temporary responses are called temporary threshold shift (TTS). Although temporary this change in hearing could play a significant part in determining how your ears age. The greater the shift the faster your ears age. So how can you determine how great the TTS in your hearing is? Well, there's an app for that.

Temporary threshold shifts (TTS) happen after exposure to loud sounds or to sounds that are moderately loud that have been listened to for a longer period of time, like a hairdryer at the salon where you work. TTS happens because of a chemical compound called ATP--the ear's way of protecting the cochlea from damage. There was a time when temporary threshold shift (TTS) were considered just that temporary, but advanced equipment can now measure deeper inside the ears. According to an article on HearingReview, this advanced equipment now indicates TTS may, “render the inner ears significantly more vulnerable to aging."

Basically, the efforts by your ears to protect you from loud noises can't provide adequate longterm protection from repeated exposure. The greater the exposure the higher the likelihood that your ears are aging faster than the rest of you. That's why the development of an app that allows people to test the level of their TTS is so important in the prevention of permanent hearing loss.

The app called the Temporary Hearing Loss App measures changes in your hearing and is available for download for both iPhone and Android. It works pretty simply by using a baseline to determine changes in your hearing. After installing the app, you use headphones to test your hearing. This test sets up the baseline--the before snapshot of your hearing. After exposure to loud or repetitive noise at a concert or at work, you remeasure your hearing using this app. Remember to retest your hearing in a similar environment say at home or in your car and don't adjust the volume on your phone. Obviously adjusting the volume higher or lower could skew the test.

The THLA will then measure what the change has been in your hearing. Once you determine the level of changes in your hearing after exposure, you can figure out how much protection you need when you reencounter these situations. Even using store bought earplugs offers some kind of protection. In fact, a study on the effectiveness of earplug use for preventing NIHL was conducted on young people in the Netherlands. The outdoor music festival in Amsterdam lasted for over four hours and during that time participants in the study were exposed to sounds capable of causing hearing loss, measured to be around 110 decibels.

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After exposure, the study tested the amount of temporary threshold shift (TTS) that participants experienced. The results showed that only 8% of participants who used earplugs had a significant temporary threshold shift (TTS) while 42% of people who used no ear protection had a TTS. In addition 12% of earplug users experienced tinnitus compared with 40% of the people in the unprotected group. These early findings indicate that earplugs can make a real difference for young people who attend concerts. This result can also be applied to workers. If you already use earplugs and have test your hearing and found there is still a TTS, you might want to invest in custom made earplugs. Important studies repeatedly show that saving your hearing is so important to your long-term and overall health.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

Resources
Marshall Chasin, AuD A temporary hearing loss test app. HearingReview. http://www.hearingreview.com/2016/05/temporary-hearing-loss-test-app/ Accessed on June 14, 2016

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