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Anchor lead: New technologies will help everyone make sense of their own hearing ability, Elizabeth Tracey reports

New hearing devices are poised to enter the market as a change enacted by Congress will allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, and are expected to be dramatically less expensive than those sold now. Frank Lin, a hearing expert at Johns Hopkins and advocate for making hearing numbers as well known as blood pressure numbers, says smart phones will help, too.

Lin: Now with the current smartphone technology we have now, with the microphones, people could actually get a pretty good darn measure of their own PTA, at home with their own cell phone. Whereas before you had to visit an audiologist, get a measure, but increasingly we’ve been getting a measure with apps and some of them are actually quite good. Rather than being an exact number it might be off by about five. It’s not perfect but plus or minus five is like not terrible. Really the next year it’s all converging. It actually makes these numbers become accessible, and actionable and useful.  :32

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: One reason to know your hearing number is to help you decide if you’d like to treat it, Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you’ve ever had your hearing assessed, you may be unaware that your hearing is reported as a number. That number should be more widely used, says Frank Lin, a hearing expert at Johns Hopkins, in a position paper advocating its use. And knowing your number is about to become much more helpful.

Lin: I think there are a few things converged here that make this really appealing to the public too. One is this growing awareness that hearing is important, everyone sort of knows like, their grandparents and their parents have it, the second big thing that’s converging too is that one of our big wins a few years ago in the Senate was getting the over the counter hearing aid pacs passed in Congress. That was set to be enacted, it should have been a few months ago but it got delayed because FDA is swamped with Covid right now. But it should be essentially next year now, which means that beginning of next year, end of next year they’ll be over the counter hearing aids from Samsung, Apple, Bose, companies like that.   :30

Lin says these devices, known now as PADs for personal amplification devices, will then be allowed to be marketed to help with hearing loss. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Knowing your hearing number will help in health related decisions, Elizabeth Tracey reports

There’s a compelling case to be made for reporting hearing levels using numbers that are already in use among audiologists. That’s according to Frank Lin, a hearing expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues in a recent position paper.

Lin: If you want to know whether or not your hearing theoretically puts you at risk of dementia, you have to know that number. I mean it’s based on that. And even among physicians like your internist, who’s taking care of you and wants to understand what your hearing is, mild, moderate and severe is not very helpful. But if they know what your number is they can say oh that’s the range where we can be thinking about this stuff and then you know you were only a thirty last year now you’ve really jumped to a forty, we probably need to do some further evaluation of that. The number is already there, it’s already measured, you just need to use that number and summarize it and tell patients what it is.  :30

Lin says it will take some time for a hearing number to gain traction among clinicians and with the public, but he believes it will become accepted and widely available, just as blood pressure numbers or weight are, and has just as many health implications. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Hearing is a simple number you should know, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Hearing should be a reported number just like cholesterol. That’s according to Frank Lin, a hearing expert at Johns Hopkins, in a recent paper advocating for widespread adoption of the practice.

Lin: You know roughly your blood pressure, people who have diabetes will know their sugar, and things like that. The metrics really matter. Because the metrics are how we communicate things, it’s how you understand if it’s getting worse or better, it’s how you compare yourself to others in many ways. But hearing, ironically your realize, no one knows their quote unquote hearing number. We say oh it’s a mild, moderate, it’s severe. And there’s actually not a hearing number but the ironic thing about that is there are tons of hearing numbers.  Hearing is actually really straightforward and easy to measure with incredible precision. That’s what audiology is all about.  :30

Lin and colleagues have developed a staged plan to roll out awareness of hearing numbers and how important they are. The plan starts with getting experts in hearing to recognize and utilize a standard, then expanding that to other physicians and the public. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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In this next podcast, Maddie Whalen and Elizabeth Scala discuss the terminology that is used when speaking about inquiry work, reviewing literature or speaking with fellow project team members. They discuss the effectiveness and efficacy of information and give examples of each. Some examples of widely used terminology that were described includes: manuscript, publication, articles and research study. Finally, they wrap up the podcast by inviting listeners to contact the Center For Nursing Inquiry and connect with the program on social media.

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Anchor lead: A new treatment for those with methamphetamine use disorder points to how big a problem this has become, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Methamphetamine use is responsible for a staggering number of drug overdoses in the western and midwestern United States, with a new study describing one intervention using two medications that may help. How do we account for so much methamphetamine use in some areas of the country while opioids predominate elsewhere? Eric Strain, a substance use disorders expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Strain: What are the circumstances early in trying a drug versus later when you’ve become habituated to its use. The circumstances under which somebody first uses a substance tend to be governed more by the social circumstances, there might be peer pressure or maybe they’re depressed, but then as the person hones in on using the substance I think its more what is going on with that person specifically, their genetic vulnerability, thing like that, as well as physical dependence. :31

Strain notes that in parallel with the pandemic, overdose deaths have also almost doubled, the latest CDC data report. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: How worried should we be about new Covid-19 variants? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Variants on the Covid-19 virus have popped up from at least three places around the world, scientists have found, with the potential for enhanced transmission person to person. Brian Garibaldi, a critical care medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, says his main concern isn’t the existing variants, it’s the overall rate of infection.

Garibaldi: The thing that I’m more concerned about is the fact that we’ve let this virus run rampant. And with so many people who are infected it has so many more opportunities to gather these mutations that by chance, might lead to a virus that does evade the vaccines. Now it is true that these vaccines can be modified very easily the platform that they’ve used, the mRNA vaccines they can modify the mRNA so that we make an immune response to these new variants if they become problematic. Right now I don’t think we need to do that. We certainly need to see more data in people who’ve been vaccinated.  :29

Garibaldi emphasizes that the best course for us all is to keep up with masking, distancing, and limiting interactions with others and to be vaccinated as soon as possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.