Clinical Research Summaries

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Clinical Research Summaries:

A population-based study of the association between dysglycemia and hearing loss in middle age. 

There have been few population-based studies of hearing loss in diabetes in well characterized participants, and none in people with higher than normal blood sugar but not diabetes (prediabetes). In participants in the Busselton Health Ageing Survey aged < 60 years, increasing abnormal blood sugar levels (dysglycaemia) was associated with increasing mid-range hearing loss after adjustment for other recognized risk factors for hearing impairment. There was no relationship between dysglycaemia and hearing loss in participants aged ≥ 60 years. Abnormal glucose tolerance may independently accelerate the onset of hearing loss in younger people with diabetes.

Sommer J, Brennan-Jones CG, Eikelboom RH, Atlas MD, Hunter M, Davis W, Davis T. A population-based study of the association between dysglycemia and hearing loss in middle age. Diabetic Medicine. 34(5): 683-690; 2017. doi: 10.1111/dme.13320.

Mental health problems among 4-17 year olds with hearing problems: results from a nationally representative study. 

The Young Minds Matter study collected mental health information from over 6300 young Australians. Our study showed that there were increased mental health problems for children with a hearing related problems. Especially 12 to 17 years-olds showed increased anxiety, and emotional and social problems. Clinicians caring for children with hearing loss need to be aware of these increased risks.

Hancock K, Brennan-Jones CG, Vithiatharana R, Payne D, Runions K, Lin A, Eikelboom RH. Mental health problems among 4-17 year olds with hearing problems: results from a nationally representative study. Hearing, Balance and Communication. In press May 2017. 

Eosinophilic oesophagitis: an otolaryngologist’s perspective. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 

Eosinophilic oesophagitis is a condition of oesophagus, often diagnosed when someone is being assessed for problems with swallowing. Episodes of food impaction as a child appear to contribute to the occurrence of this condition. This article is designed to help doctors in diagnosing eosinophilic oesophagitis particularly in differentiating it from chronic reflux.

Gnanasekaran T, Gnanasekaran S, Wood JM, Friedland P. Eosinophilic oesophagitis: an otolaryngologist’s perspective. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 78(6):338-340; 2017.

Medial geniculate neurons show diverse effects in response to electrical stimulation of prefrontal cortex. 

Tinnitus, buzzing or ringing sounds in the ears or head when no such external physical sounds are present, is known to be triggered by damage to the hearing organ, the cochlea. Tinnitus is associated with changes in the hearing pathways in the brain but it is now thought that changes in other brain structures are also involved in the generation and maintenance of tinnitus. In this paper we investigate pathways between auditory structures and the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in emotional process, attention and memory and found clear evidence of a functional pathway. The data in the paper support the hypothesis that parts of the brain involved in emotional processing could modulate information in the hearing pathways in the brain and therefore could play a role in the generation of tinnitus.

Barry KM, Robertson D, Mulders WHAM. Medial geniculate neurons show diverse effects in response to electrical stimulation of prefrontal cortex. Hearing Research, accepted for publication.

Electrically Evoked Compound Action Potentials are Different Depending on the Site of Cochlear Stimulation.

The function of a cochlear implant is to restore hearing. To show whether it is working effectively, the electrode of the implant can also be used to test how well the implant signals are transmitted to auditory nerve, the nerve that transmits signals to the brain. This study was conducted at various international centres. It showed that care must be taken when analysing recorded signals as they can differ depending on which part of the implant electrode is used to stimulate the nerve and its intensity. 

van der Heyning P, Santiago L, Arauz SL, Atlas M, Baumgartner W-D, Caversaccio M, Chester-Browne R, Estienne P, Gavilan J, Godey B, Gstöttner W, Han D, Hagen R, Kompis M,  Kuzovkov V,  Lassaletta L, Lefevre F, Yongxin Li X, Müller J, Parnes L, Kleine Punte A, Raine C, Rajan G, Rivas A, Antonio Rivas J, Royle N, Sprinzl G, Stephan K, Walkowiak A, Yanov Y, Zimmermann K, Zorowka P, Skarzynski H. Electrically Evoked Compound Action Potentials are Different Depending on the Site of Cochlear Stimulation. Cochlear Implants International. Published online: 30 Nov 2016. doi: 10.1080/14670100.2016.1240427

A prospective study evaluating cochlear implant management skills: development and validation of the Cochlear Implant Management Skils (CIMS) survey. 

Recipients of a cochlear implant require skills and knowledge to maintain the external components of their device. This study developed the Cochlear Implant Management Skills (CIMS) survey. The CIMS survey allows an audiologist to systematically go through the primary skills required, with the recipient demonstrating their skills. The study showed that the CIMS survey is sensitive to identifying gaps in skills as well as an increase in skills following retraining. The CIMS is now used in clinics internationally.

Bennett RJ, Jayakody DMP, Atlas MD, Taljaard DS, Eikelboom RH. A prospective study evaluating cochlear implant management skills: development and validation of the Cochlear Implant Management Skills (CIMS) survey. Clinical Otolaryngology. 41(1):51-58; 2016. doi: 10.1111/coa.12472

Self-reported hearing loss and manual audiometry: A rural versus urban comparison.

This study used the information collected by the Lions Hearing Foundation (WA)’s Hearing Screening Bus. Data of over 2000 people attending metropolitan and rural screenings were included. We showed that a self-report of hearing difficulties for those over 60 years of age will be almost 90% correct in identifying people with a significant hearing loss. There was more hearing loss in rural areas. We also found that hearing aid use in those who would benefit from hearing aids was particularly low, at less than 4%. Primary health care services should use a self-report of hearing loss to identify those with a hearing loss, and access to hearing aid rehabilitation must be improved. 

Brennan-Jones CG, Taljaard DS, Brennan-Jones SEF, Bennett RJ, Swanepoel D, Eikelboom RH. Self-reported hearing loss and manual audiometry: A rural versus urban comparison. Australian Journal of Rural Health. 24(2):130-5; 2016. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12227

The impact of tinnitus upon cognition in adults: A Systematic Review.

Tinnitus is a common and at times debilitating condition. Cognitive function, the ability to think, remember and reason, is likely to be affected. To determine the scientific evidence of the impact of tinnitus on cognitive function, we systematically reviewed and analysed 18 studies. We found that tinnitus appears to have an impact on some aspects of cognitive function by affecting the executive control of attention, for example problem solving and attention. It also appears that anxiety, depression and hearing loss, which often accompanies tinnitus, may increase cognitive difficulties. Therefore, clinical management of people with invasive tinnitus and cognitive difficulties needs to be tailored to each patient's specific concerns. Additionally, patients with both tinnitus and hearing loss should be encouraged to pursue hearing loss management.

Tegg-Quinn S, Bennett RJ, Eikelboom RH, Baguley DM. The impact of tinnitus upon cognition in adults: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Audiology. 55(10):533-40; 2016. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2016.1185168

Prevalence and risk factors of recurrent otitis media during early childhood in Western Australia: a prospective birth cohort study. 

This study looked at the incidence of ear infections in young children. It was the first in Australia to assess the prevalence and causes of this common childhood condition. The study has uncovered a range of risk factors that contribute to the problem reoccurring. It showed that children with allergies, older siblings, those in day care and those who were not exclusively breastfed for the first 4 months were at higher risk of developing ear disease (also known as Otitis Media). Otitis Media is estimated to affect over 90% of Aussie kids before their second birthday.

Brennan-Jones CG, Whitehouse AJO, Park J, Hegarty M, Eikelboom RH, Swanepoel D, White JD, Jamieson SE. Prevalence and risk factors of recurrent otitis media during early childhood in Western Australia: a prospective birth cohort study. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health. 51(4); 403-409; 2015. doi:10.1111/jpc.12741