Researchers in South Korea have recently discovered that asthma medicine may be an effective treatment for noise-induced hearing loss.
Caused by a long-term, or one-time, overexposure to excessively loud sounds, those measuring 85 decibels (such as a lawnmower) or louder, noise-induced hearing loss is characterized by the damage of delicate hair cells within the inner ear. These cells aid in the communication of sound from the ear to the brain. Once damaged, they cannot be completely repaired.
Following the recent success of researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Hearing Health Foundation to challenge this fact, the Korean team exposed a mouse to 112 decibels of noise for three hours. When they analyzed the mouse’s hair cells, they noticed that an infectious substance that causes asthma was activated by the loud noise and increased the number of enzymes, known as MMP-3, that could damage the cells.
When the team injected asthma medication into the mouse, the damage to the hair cells was minimized.
Future research will be needed to extract the specific substance from the asthma medicine in order to better understand how it can be made into a treatment to prevent noise-induced hearing loss from worsening in humans.
Last updated: August 6, 2014