With the creation of a new hearing test, researchers in the United Kingdom may be one step closer to diagnosing early hearing loss in young patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), according to an online article in Cystic Fibrosis News Today.
CF is a genetic, life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the digestive system and lungs, and limits the ability to breathe over time. CF causes a sticky and thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. The buildup clogs the lungs, causing breathing problems and giving a place for bacteria to grow, leading to lung infections and damage.
That fertile ground for bacteria is what causes problems for patients. When the bacteria accumulates, it can then lead to chest inflammation and infections. The current practice is to treat chest infections with one specific type of intravenous (IV) antibiotics, which happen to cause hearing loss.
The new test is the High Frequency Digit Triple Test (HFDT), and it measures high-frequency tones, which are typically the first sounds to go when damage occurs. During the test, patients put on headsets and listen through the programmed noise for a series of numbers, which they then identify.
The hope for the new test is that doctors test and recognize hearing loss before the patients have noticed the change. By realizing that damage may be occurring, doctors can consider other antibiotic medications before additional hearing damage happens.