Since 2014, the U.S. Army has gradually been deploying the latest version of a hearing protection system that protects users from loud noises while still letting them hear the world around them.
The system is called TCAPS — Tactical Communication and Protective System — and about 20,000 of the new TCAPS devices have been deployed in the field so far.
Hearing loss is a big problem in the military. According to Defense Department statistics, more than half of all troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from some sort of damage to their hearing.
Unlike birds and amphibians, mammals can't recover lost hearing. In people, the cells of the inner ear responsible for detecting sound and transmitting those signals to the brain form during early stages of development and can't be replaced if lost due to illness, injury or aging.
Studying mice, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified two signaling molecules that are required for the proper development of a part of the inner ear called the cochlea. Without both signals, the embryo does not produce enough of the cells that eventually make up the adult cochlea, resulting in a shortened cochlear duct and impaired hearing.
The study, available online in the journal eLife, contributes to the understanding of inner ear development, a first step toward the goal of being able to recover lost hearing.
For many young people, cranking up the music is what everyone's doing. And, the louder it gets, the better. But, your ears may pay the price later on. Many health experts are urging music lovers to dial down the volume. Recent research suggests there could be link between using ear buds and mild hearing loss in teens. Because what you do now will affect you for years to come. And, there's no turning back.
"Often times small amounts of hearing loss can be kind of subtle. And, not necessarily right away," says Dr. Brian Nicholas, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences with Upstate University Hospital.
People who pop ear buds in for extended periods of time could be at risk for long-term damage. While you won't have any noticeable signs immediately, the damage could creep up.
You may find yourself turning the volume up on your TV or phone, those are important warning signs.
If that happens to you, your ear is sending you a signal.