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Link between Hearing Loss and lower Levels of Aldosterone Hormone

February 10th, 2006

Link between Hearing Loss and lower Levels of Aldosterone Hormone

inner ear

A research project from the International Center for Hearing and Speech Research (ICHSR) measured the amount of aldosterone hormone in aging individuals and found a relationship of lowered hormone levels and hearing loss.

This combined research project came from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology and neuroscientists from the University of Rochester who participate with the ICHSR center.  The funding for this project came from the National Institute on Aging, which is a leader in age related hearing loss research.  The research paper was first published in the November issue of the journal, Hearing Research.

 

Aldosterone is a hormone that helps the kidney function and is also used in conjunction with potassium and sodium that works with the nervous system.  If there is an imbalance of potassium and sodium it is believed that the nerves will not send signals to the brain as well.  The potassium levels are extremely important for the nerves in the inner ear.  The fluid needs to be abundant with potassium in order for sound to be converted into signals that the nervous system can deliver to the brain.

The researchers selected 47 men and women aged 58 through 84 that did not have any major health problems.  They measured the blood levels for aldosterone.  It is common for aldosterone levels ten to drop as we age.  The people in this study that had severe hearing had around half as much aldosterone in their blood compared to those that did not have any hearing loss.  The researchers stress that these test should not encourage physicians or patients to change their aldosterone levels.  They are not certain if normal levels vary from person to person.  More research would have to be completed to test safety of altering aldosterone levels.

 

"We found a direct link between blood levels of aldosterone and the ability of people to hear normally as they age. Depressed hormone levels may hurt hearing both in the inner ear and the part of the brain used for hearing,” said D. Frisina Ph.D who is professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and is also an additional professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.   Frisina continued by saying, “More research is needed, however, to understand the precise role that aldosterone plays – for instance, whether it's a cause of failed hearing, or whether it's symptomatic. Before we understand the issue more fully, people should not worry about their aldosterone levels or look to boost the amount in their bloodstream."

The researchers also say that as we tend to age there is also more likelihood of decreased levels of potassium in the inner ear.  The researchers believe that lowered potassium levels in the inner ear are directly related to the lowered blood levels of aldosterone.

"We are now working out some of the underlying biology about how the decline occurs," said Frisina. "We have evidence that these potassium channels may play an important role in the failure of the feedback system, which is a big part of age-related hearing loss."

 

As we age more and more people will have a hearing problem.  Some people can get hearing damage from loud noise exposure, or have damage because of some types of medication’s that produce side effects.  There are many people with hearing loss in which the cause is unknown.  Hearing problems most often begin in peoples 40’s and 50’s.  Hearing loss is the most noticeable in a person that is in their 60’s or older.

The research team will look into gene therapy as a possible treatment for age related hearing loss.  They hope that it might be possible in the future to correct the inner ear’s potassium imbalance to restore hearing.  If the gene therapy is successful it may also help in the treatment of genetic congenital deafness, which is also related to a potassium imbalance in the inner ear.

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

 

 

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM