Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine discovered that hearing loss caused by loud noise can be cured by injecting a salt- or sugar-based solution into the ear.
Exposure to extremely loud noises, an explosion or loud concert, for example, can lead to loss of hearing. This problem is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and it affects roughly 15 percent of Americans. NIHL can be permanent or temporary depending upon the loudness and the duration of the sound.
Things are changing as researchers discover the causes of NIHL. They learned that hearing loss after exposure to the loud noises is caused by the inner ear filling up with fluid. However, if a salt or sugar solution is injected through the eardrum within three hours the fluid buildup can be reversed.
The study’s corresponding author, John Oghalai, said, “That buildup of fluid pressure in the inner ear is something you might notice if you go to a loud concert.”
“When you leave the concert, your ears might feel full and you might have ringing in your ears. We were able to see that this buildup of fluid correlates with neuron loss.”
Oghalai added, “The death of sensory hair cells leads to hearing loss. But even if some sensory hair cells remain and still work, if they’re not connected to a neuron, then the brain won’t hear the sound.”
Researchers conducted the research on mice. Now, they hope to test their treatment in human trials.