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Hormone Replacement Therapy and Its Effects on Human Hearing

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Hearing and Hormones

Part of the book series: Springer Handbook of Auditory Research ((SHAR,volume 57))

Abstract

Hormone therapies can have very dramatic effects upon hearing abilities, depending on the timing, duration, and nature of the hormones. Overall, estrogen tends to be beneficial to hearing, consistent with its generally neuroprotective and neuromodulatory actions for neural and sensory systems. Indeed, menopausal women tend to benefit from estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in terms of hearing, but other serious side effects, including ovarian, uterine, and breast cancer risks, have to be taken into account carefully. The most common form of HRT prescribed clinically, so called “combination” HRT, consists of estrogen combined with progestin/progesterone. The largest clinical research study to date on its actions in post-menopausal women revealed decreases in auditory sensitivity (audiogram thresholds), declines in otoacoustic emission levels, and worse performance on hearing-in-background noise tests relative to controls (women who had never taken HRT). Other hormones, such as aldosterone, may be beneficial to hearing in older individuals who have reduced serum levels of this mineralocorticoid hormone. Thyroxine, given to patients suffering from hypothyroidism, also may be beneficial to hearing. And finally, examination of a series of otoacoustic emissions and evoked potential studies in different gender groups suggests that pre- or post-natal exposures to higher levels of testosterone correlate with declines in auditory processing.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by NIH Grant P01 AG009524 from the National Institute on Aging, and R01 DC014568 from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders. We thank Shannon Salvog for assistance in project support.

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Correspondence to Robert D. Frisina .

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Frisina, R.D., Frisina, D.R. (2016). Hormone Replacement Therapy and Its Effects on Human Hearing. In: Bass, A., Sisneros, J., Popper, A., Fay, R. (eds) Hearing and Hormones. Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, vol 57. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-26597-1_8

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