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I Have a Little Hearing Problem

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Up until about an hour ago I knew very little of the genetics of deafness or hard of hearing issues.

I figured it was just the product of simple wear and tear of use, over time, involving the exquisite machinery that makes it possible for us to hear. An inevitable process of getting older. I did have a niggling doubt that there might be something wrong with that logic because  not everyone loses their hearing as they get older.

So I went down the rabbit hole of hearing loss with Google.

Loss of hearing is complicated, a mix of environment and genetics, plus, like I said, that whole complex structure that resides in side your ear. There are lots of things that can go wrong. I am surprised they don’t more often, but then that is the beauty of our bodies and the way God made them.

Consider the following, my public service announcement for the week.

There is evidence that certain changes in your DNA that you were born with can affect your chances of becoming hard of hearing!


It turns out that in a particular area of your DNA, your body codes for a very special protein with a very fancy, descriptive name: glutamate metabotropic receptor. This protein molecule is a neuro transmitter. It neurally transmits all over your body. And…

“…it is central in maintaining glutamate synaptic transmission and homosteais in the cochlea of your ear at the synapses between hair cells and dendrites of afferent auditory nerve fibers.”

In other words, what ever your hair cells are receiving in the way of sound and air vibrations, this molecule is transferring that to the nerve that goes from your ear to your brain.

I know.

Absolutely fantastic.

In yet  another study, age related hearing loss (along with certain cancers and heart disease) was found to be associated with the ability of your body to metabolize folate. (Please note I said metabolize, not make!! More on this later.) Another vitamin, B12 has been associated with hearing loss in older women too. And this leads me to the point of all of this.

B12 and folate supplements as we get older, might be a really good idea.  For a lot of reasons.

But in this case, for hearing.

Because as strange as it may sound there is credible evidence that it might help to take B12 and folic acid if you have hearing loss in your family.

Yeah, I know, this sort of sounds like mumbo jumbo or snake oil salesmanship or if you’ve been paying attention, the probable bill of goods on gluten free that is making food companies so much money.

But its not. A bill of goods that is.

It turns out the B12 and folic acid, as we get older and for other other reasons involving poor digestion and diet ( like alcoholism ) make it so that your body doesn’t get enough of either one of those VERY necessary vitamins. (When I say necessary I mean necessary because every cell in your body, and in particular your brain and central nervous system cells, has to have it to make those cells function.)

You cannot make these vitamins, you have to get them from your food (meat, eggs etc) or play host to a special little colony of bacteria that excrete B12 as waste distal to the area of your stomach that absorbs B12, which as it turns out is ever in your favor.

Soooooo, if you have destroyed your natural stomach critters with Purell, yet another money making venture based on scaring you rather than appeal to your common sense) or for some reason aren’t getting enough in your diet, or don’t have the enzymes to incorporate the chemicals, which is also something that can happen, you’re sort of up digestion creek without a vitamin paddle.

It looks like that if you are in that genetic pool that has the mistake in your gene makeup that prevents B12 and folic acid from getting into you so that your cells can make good use of it, the lack of which also INCLUDES YOUR AUDITORY NERVE, starting to supplement with these vitamins has a chance of helping.

That’s cool.

Vitamins can mitigate hearing loss!!!

And believe me you want that. I know this from living with my Mother. She now has hearing loss so profound that she hasn’t talked on the phone, heard the birds sings, or most of the conversation going on around her for over a decade.

This was the case with her father, her sister, now one of my sons and my brother.

It’s all very isolating.

To all you hearing impaired out there,  I wish it wasn’t so. I love you because of the struggle you have to endure. I wish I could do something to make life easier.

In the mean time this guy (read his story, its really something) knows how to do something to make everyone smile. Just listen, with you ears or eyes to  Uptown Funk. Because that song does make your feet wanna dance.

Yeah baby!



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