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Soldiers Volunteer to Test Drug That Prevents Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

According to recent studies, the number of people suffering from noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise. But it’s not just the growing number of people losing their hearing that is cause for concern. Historically, people haven’t started to go deaf until well into their 50s and 60s, but nowadays more and more young people are having hearing difficulties. Fortunately, a new drug is being tested by a group of Army volunteers that could prove to be a powerful weapon in the battle against hearing loss.

What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when you’re exposed to loud noises. The hearing mechanisms in your ears are very sensitive, and excessive noise can significantly damage the hair-like receptors that take in sound, diminishing your hearing ability. Typically, noise-induced hearing loss can occur from listening to music too loudly on headphones or attending loud concerts. Additionally, a large percentage of hearing loss occurs due to excessive noise in the workplace.

Why Test the Drug on Soldiers?

When training, soldiers often have to fire dozens, if not hundreds of rounds of ammunition, causing them to damage their hearing with every pull of the trigger. This constant barrage of excessive sound makes soldiers an ideal group to test a new drug that, at least theoretically, could severely limit noise-induced hearing loss.

In the last two decades, the number of auditory disability claims filed by soldiers has grown steadily. Because modern weapons are louder then their counterparts from years ago, more damage is being done to our soldiers’ hearing, and military personnel are increasingly complaining about hearing loss and tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs says that hearing loss has become one of the most common disabilities reported by veterans.

How Does the Drug Work?

The drug being tested is a micronutrient called D-methionine. This substance is commonly found in eggs, cheese and other foods, and it’s being administered in liquid form for the drug trial. According to some scientists, loud noises cause the body to release reactive molecules, known as free radicals, and it is these molecules that damage the hearing receptors in the inner ear. Because d-methionine is an antioxidant, it should theoretically be able to destroy these free radicals and stop them from causing hearing loss.

The trial is still in its early days, so the results aren’t yet known. But if d-methionine does prove to be effective at preventing hearing loss, then it could be invaluable for workers across a wide array of noisy professions, including pilots, loggers and factory workers.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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