Audiologists in Boston are asking those who witnessed the bombing at the Boston Marathon to come forward to have their hearing checked.
Many have already been treated at local hospitals for severe ear injuries, but hearing experts fear there may be an untold number of other people who could be suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus who have not yet sought medical help.
Tufts Medical Center, which has treated a number of admitted patients for ear drum punctures and nerve damage, expects to eventually see outpatients with milder hearing problems, said Susan McDonald a senior audiologist at Tufts Medical Center.
Several patients visited Brigham and Women’s Hospital for hearing problems, as well as non-urgent shrapnel wounds. A spokeswoman said all had been discharged.
High-energy sound waves from an explosion can damage the ear by destroying nerve cells or ripping through the delicate eardrum tissue that separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
“Many of the patients with hearing loss that we’re treating were right by the bomb site, but it’s possible that less severe effects have occurred in those who were 100 feet or more away from the blast,” said Dr. Alicia Quesnel, an otologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, which has seen at least a dozen patients.
“Some of our patients may have more severe nerve-related hearing loss that won't get better,” Quesnel said, and may require the use of a hearing aid. Since injuries can take weeks or months to heal, the extent of permanent damage will not be known for some time, she added.
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