Photo credit: Startup Stock Photos

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Our friend Yishane Lee, editor of Hearing Health Magazine and communications director at the Hearing Health Foundation, shared her fascinating report about the recent Association for Research in Otolaryngology meeting in Anaheim, California in early February. 

ARO is the world’s largest organization of researchers in hearing and balance. I became aware of ARO through the late Bryan Pollard, who for several years sponsored a dinner for researchers interested in hyperacusis at each annual meeting.  

I’ve presented papers at meetings for the Acoustical Society of America, the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise and the Institute for Noise Control Engineering, and attended the World Health Organization’s consultation on its “Make Listening Safe” program. But I haven’t yet attended an ARO meeting. Why? It’s always good to attend medical or scientific meetings because one can listen to reviews of new scientific developments, hear presentations on groundbreaking research and most importantly, meet experts and researchers to talk about noise problems directly. Unfortunately, travel takes time and money and both are limited resources.

I have not yet attended the ARO meetings because my interest is in preventing the development of auditory disorders (noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis) by figuring out what the safe noise exposure level is for humans, which may be even lower than I thought it was seven years ago.  More research is always good, but no more research needs to be done for everyone to know that noise damages the ears. My second noise interest is convincing both the medical community and the public that hearing loss with age, commonly called presbycusis or age-related hearing loss, isn’t part of normal physiological aging and instead largely represents noise-induced hearing loss.

No more research needs to be done for everyone — researchers, doctors, legislators and regulators at all levels of government — to know that noise damages the ears and has non-auditory health effects. The authors of this 10-year-old article told me they’re working on an update, but the information presented is still accurate.

A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for everyone.

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