Helen Henshaw is a hearing scientist and Principal Research Fellow at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Hearing (@hearingnihr) at Nottingham University. She tweets at @hlh1.
Hearing conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis are highly prevalent in the population and can severely impact communication and quality of life. Hearing is affected by multiple factors, including heredity, noise exposure, age, sex, ear disorders and lifestyle factors. Hearing loss affects over 70% of adults aged 70 years and older, is often experienced in combination with other long-term health conditions and is a mid-life risk factor for dementia.
We searched Age and Ageing
for articles on hearing conditions published since the start of the Modernising Hearing Aid Services (MHAS) programme (September 2000). This resulted in 22 articles included within the collection. They examine a range of important topics related to hearing healthcare and research, including noise-induced hearing loss, health service quality and safety, psychological and psychosocial consequences of hearing loss, and comorbidities of hearing loss. All articles reported on hearing loss; there were no published articles with a primary focus on other hearing conditions such as tinnitus or hyperacusis, on the health of older people from the Deaf community, or users of Cochlear implants, suggesting key gaps in knowledge.
With the impending publication of the Department of Health and Social Care Action Plan on Hearing and Tinnitus Research, we take a forward look at how research into hearing conditions may develop in years to come. We highlight opportunities for the growth of patient-centred research and hearing healthcare supported by the better integration of health and care services, as well as cross-speciality working to include common comorbid health conditions.
A New Horizons article, New Horizons in Hearing conditions, was commissioned to accompany this Age and Ageing themed collection, which you can read in full for free.