Photo credit: Fox
by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
It has long been known that women have better hearing than men. Historically this was because women weren’t exposed to noise from recreational activities like garage bands, woodworking or hunting, or at work in construction and factories. But it was also known that estrogen somehow conferred a protective effect on hearing.
This new research study examined changes in hearing associated with menopause, raising the possibility that hormone replacement therapy might help older womens’ hearing. This study was the first to show that estrogen altered auditory brainstem responses (ABR), establishing a need for a new set of normal ABR responses in postmenopausal women depending on their hormone status.
Exactly how estrogen protects hearing isn’t yet known and estrogen treatment for hearing loss isn’t currently an option for men. But as senior author Robert Sataloff said, “there is a great deal that people can do to protect their hearing as they age.” He adds that avoiding loud noise is one of the most obvious options.
We couldn’t agree more. If it sounds loud, it’s too loud and one’s auditory health is at risk. Turn down the volume, leave the noisy environment or use hearing protection early in life. Do this and your ears should last a lifetime.