The rising trend of noise induced hearing loss is something that researchers and physicians at the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute are hoping to reverse, with a cocktail of vitamins and the mineral magnesium that has shown promise as a possible way to prevent hearing loss caused by loud noises. The nutrients were successful in laboratory tests, and now researchers are testing whether humans will benefit as well.
The combination of vitamins A, C and E, plus magnesium, was given in pill form to patients who are participating in the research. Developed at the U-M Kresge Hearing Research Institute, the medication, called AuraQuell, is designed to be taken before a person is exposed to loud noises. In earlier testing at U-M on guinea pigs, the combination of the four micronutrients blocked about 80 percent of the noise-induced hearing impairment.
Now the medication is being tested in human clinical trials: military trials in Sweden and Spain, an industrial trial in Spain, and a trial involving students at the University of Florida who listen to music at high volumes on their iPods and other PDAs, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Until a decade ago, it was thought that noise damaged hearing by intense mechanical vibrations that destroyed the delicate structures of the inner ear. There was no intervention to protect the inner ear other than reducing then intensity of sound reaching it, such as ear plugs, which are not always effective. It was then discovered that noise caused intense metabolic activity in the inner ear and the production of molecules that damage the inner ear cells; and that allowed the discovery of an intervention to prevent these effects.
The military tests in the new study could be of particular importance because of the high number of soldiers who develop hearing loss in the line of duty, due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other noises.
Hearing loss commonly occurs, when loud noises trigger the formation of molecules inside the ear and these molecules cause damage to the hair cells of the inner ear. The cells then shut down and scar, and they cannot grow back. The U-M researchers discovered that this new combination of vitamins, when mixed with magnesium, can prevent noise-induced damage to the ears by blocking some of these complex cellular reactions.
At Hidden Hearing, we’ll keep you updated on how the research goes.