Earlier this week we observed Veteran’s day paying honor to the men and women who serve our country. The day of remembrance and honor got us thinking about the hearing of our soldiers coming back from duty. Recent studies show that more than 12% of all deployed American soldiers who return from conflicts around the globe experience noise-induced hearing loss. Soldiers not only experience hearing loss, they may also experience tinnitus-related traumatic brain injuries.
A group of researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in the US began studying the phenomenon of hearing loss nearly 25 years ago to see if there was a way to prevent or even revert hearing loss in certain circumstances for these soldiers. Findings show that antioxidants, dietary supplements and high-tech brain imaging are among some of the novel strategies that may help detect, treat and even prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus among our American troops.
The research team led by Michael Seidman, M.D., is the first to identify how acoustic trauma from machinery and explosive devices damages the inner ear cells and breaks down cell growth, much like age-related hearing loss. “Noise-induced hearing loss doesn’t just impact a person’s ability to hear; it can cause balance issues, make it difficult to sleep and communicate, and even raise the risk for heart disease by increasing a person’s blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar,” says Dr. Seidman.
Initial results from a study conducted by Dr. Seidman shows that a nutraceutical such as acetyl-l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid and resveratrol — a substance found in red wine and red grapes — may possibly hold the potential to not only prevent, but reverse hearing loss in certain circumstances for soldiers. This research is based on animal models, but will soon be tested with humans, to see if a pill could soon be developed to prevent acoustic trauma in troops.
Additionally, a study by Susan Bowyer, Ph.D., senior bioscientific researcher at Henry Ford Hospital, found that an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) can determine the site of perception of tinnitus in the brain, which could in turn allow physicians to target the area with electrical or chemical therapies to lessen symptoms. This is not currently used in practice, however with future research, Dr. Bowyer and Seidman hope to see this is a resolution for those affected by tinnitus.
In all, the team’s work on noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus has led to more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and several patents. According to Dr. Seidman, more research and funding are needed in order to generate critical data to facilitate an understanding of the damage caused by acoustic trauma and develop strategies to mitigate that damage.
Read the entire article at Science Daily.