Exposure to loud noises in the military isn’t just common, it’s a given in almost every soldier’s experience. The sound of a jet taking off, a gun firing, or any kind of explosive- these all exceed a person’s threshold for decibels of noise. Noise exposure is a major cause of hearing loss, and this places thousands of troops at risk for damage to their hearing over time in the military. However, a solution is being developed by Kathleen Campbell at the Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine to prevent further damage.
The treatment involves an element found in certain fermented cheese, yogurt, and other fermented dairy. This antioxidant, called D-methionine, neutralizes the harmful electrons that are released when the body is exposed to loud noise and inner ear cells are overstimulated. D-methionine can also produce another antioxidant that could eventually stop the electrons- also known as “free radicals”- from being released at all. By incorporating these properties into a medical treatment, hearing damage from noise could be reversed quickly after the initial exposure. To test this, Campbell has had soldiers consume D-methionine before, during, and after their participation at a shooting range. The study is still awaiting results, and in the meantime, Campbell has also tested the effects of the antioxidant on animals. She found that D-methionine especially affected chinchillas, which have a very similar hearing range to humans.
While significant in her research, Campbell is not the first to look into medicinal treatments for hearing damage. Private companies such as Sound Pharmaceuticals, as well as other research bases, have tested the effects of certain drugs on exposure to noise, with mostly positive and promising results. Some in the scientific community may not see the importance of finding such treatments quickly, but the statistics of those with hearing loss are rising. Those who would previously have been too young to show signs of hearing damage are now being harmed by loud music from their personal devices, concerts, sports arenas, and etc. A treatment for exposure to noise is needed for thousands around the world, and researchers grow closer every day to finding the solution.