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APR

Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Military Battles Hearing Loss

Active military

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is often preventable by taking a few simple precautions like using earplugs or limiting exposure to loud noise. But putting limits on exposure to loud noise and wearing earplugs isn't always possible for active service members who need to hear to keep themselves and others safe. That's probably why some estimates say 60% of returning veterans have hearing damage. In order to take on this startling trend, the military has invested in a unique formula-- a micronutrient that could protect hearing.

Whether in active war zone, communicating in and around military machinery, or during essential training military personnel are exposed to destructive noises. According to the Military Times, “More than 800,000 veterans receive compensation from the Veterans Affairs Department for hearing-related conditions, totaling more than $1 billion a year.”

Although there has been a good effort to employ safer hearing health strategies, complex and active and ever changing scenarios don’t make it easy. But Dr. Kathleen Campbell, Professor and Director of Audiology Research at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine might change all that. Dr. Campbell is testing the powerful and healing aspects of a micronutrient typically found in dairy products called D-Methionine (D-Met). Dr. Campbell will try to confirm pre-clinical studies showing that D-Met can reverse hearing loss. D-met works when given orally before, during, or within seven hours after exposure to loud noise.

So how is D-Met thought to work? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "Researchers believe excessive noise causes the body to produce large numbers of highly reactive molecules [free radicals] that can harm tissues such as the hair cells of the inner ear." Essentially, D-Met is an antioxidant thought to help fight free radicals created after exposure to loud noise.

In addition to helping to prevent hearing loss in military personnel, D-Met is also being tested to help cancer patients who experience hearing loss due to the ototoxic (ear poisoning) effects of chemotherapy. The trials and research on D-Met are very exciting, but the phase 3 trials and final FDA approval are needed before D-Met will be available to the general public.

RESOURCES

Amy Dockser Marcus. "Army Test Hearing Drug at Rifle Range" The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/army-tests-hearing-drug-at-the-rifle-range-1440182197(accessed January 21, 2016).

Staff writer American Academy of Audiology, “Clinical Trials of D-Methionine: Interview with Kathleen Campbell, PhD” American Academy of Audiology. http://www.audiology.org/news/clinical-trials-d-methionine-interview-kat... (accessed January 21, 2016)

Patricia Kime. “A pill to prevent hearing loss holds promise” . Military Times. http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/09... (accessed January 21, 2016)

Christine Schweickert. “Drill sergeants test drug that saves hearing” Army.mil .http://www.army.mil/article/150312/ (accessed December 30, 2015)

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