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Researchers Aim to Uncover Testing for “Hidden Hearing Loss”

​​​​​​Have you ever had trouble hearing in loud environments yet your hearing tests have been normal? Recent research has called this problem "hidden hearing loss." Right now, standard hearing tests evaluate responses to soft sounds and because "hidden hearing loss" involves loud sounds, it is not identified during testing.

Researchers at Boys Town National Research Hospital hope to change that.

The Auditory Signal Processing Lab, led by Daniel Rasetshwane, Ph.D., will begin working on developing a test to diagnose "hidden hearing loss." Since this type of damage can also occur in people who have traditional hearing loss, the test battery will apply to people who have a normal traditional hearing test and those who do not.

"We would like to develop a test that can tell us whether an individual has hidden hearing loss and how much hidden hearing loss do they have," said Daniel Rasetshwane, Ph.D. "We plan to recruit adults with normal results and those with mild hearing loss according to traditional hearing tests. We will make a series of measurements that are sensitive to hidden hearing loss and use them to develop the test." 

In a recent study by Harvard Researcher, M. Charles Liberman, Ph.D., evidence shows "hidden hearing loss," can be caused by exposure to loud noise such as a loud concert or gunshots. While the damage done to our hearing may not be immediately noticeable, over time this damage can affect how we hear in noisy settings.

"The ability to diagnose hidden hearing loss in the clinic will usher in new methods for clinical evaluation and may lead to better remediation techniques," said Rasetshwane.  

Boys Town National Research Hospital is on the leading edge of this work that will change the way America will identify and care for "hidden hearing loss."