A simple blood test could help detect hearing loss at an earlier stage than hearing tests currently available allow.
Researchers have identified a protein found in the blood that could be used to identify if someone really is going deaf.
There are various causes of hearing loss, including age, viruses and trauma. Yet while a decline in hearing can sometimes be very quick, in most cases it is gradual and too subtle for most people to notice. It is often not picked up until it is quite severe, by which time other problems such as social isolation, depression and tinnitus — a ringing in the ears common among those with hearing loss — may have set in.
A simple blood test could help detect hearing loss at an earlier stage than hearing tests currently available allow. The only way reduced hearing can currently be measured accurately is with a time-consuming hearing test —an audiogram — which involves being referred to an audiologist.
However, the new blood test being trialled by scientists could potentially be conducted at a doctor’s surgery — and according to initial results, it can identify hearing loss at a far earlier stage than a standard hearing test.
This means hearing aids could be given to people sooner, which might help to prevent the development of social problems and tinnitus (why hearing loss can cause this is not clear).