Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is preventable with precautions like noise canceling headphones, earplugs, or limiting exposure to loud noises. But for active service members hearing health often takes a backseat to personal safety or the safety of others. Perhaps that's why, in some estimates, 60% of returning veterans have hearing damage. But now, there's a micronutrient found in dairy that might provide a simple solution for the problematic choice military personnel make every day--your hearing or your life.
Most healthy people couldn’t fathom having to choose between saving their hearing or saving their lives or the lives of others, but service members make this choice every day. Not just in hostile war zones, but communicating in and around military machinery and during essential training that will set the groundwork for future deployments. 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 an effort to employ better hearing health strategies in the military, complex situations don’t always allow for easy implementation. That’s why Dr. Kathleen Campbell, Professor and Director of Audiology Research at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, is testing the powerful healing aspects of a micronutrient typically found in dairy products called D-Methionine (D-Met).
Now before you go out and buying whole milk from the local store, you'd need an incredible amount of dairy to reach the level that Dr. Campbell is employing. Not to worry, she's on it. In an FDA approved phase 3 clinical trial, Dr. Campbell will try to confirm pre-clinical studies showing that D-Met can prevent hearing loss (and tinnitus) if 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.
And there's more good news. 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 let's sit tight. The phase 3 trials and final FDA approval are still needed before D-Met will be available to the general public.
If you'd like to learn more about hearing health, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!
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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