Hearing protection pills?


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Brett Bellmore
December 19, 2003, 05:00 PM
Think I'm going to have to pick up a bottle of these.

Pop a Pill, Save Your Hearing? (http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,61646,00.html)

"People who've had their ears damaged by gunfire, jackhammers or punk rock have traditionally had two choices: get hearing aids, or suffer in silence.

But a new set of drugs, about to be tested on Marine recruits, is showing promise as a way to protect ears against the din.

"The conventional wisdom has been that there's no medical or surgical treatment for noise-induced hearing loss," said Richard Danielson, a professor of audiology at Baylor College of Medicine. "Only recently has there been the potential for chemical protection, maybe even recovery."

Noise causes harm either by tearing sections of the inner ear -- so-called "mechanical" damage -- or by overstressing some of the cells there. This "metabolic exhaustion" starts a toxic chain reaction, killing off or severely weakening the cells.

In a series of animal studies, antioxidant drugs have been able to counteract the exhaustion in animals, easing metabolic woes.

At the University of Michigan, for example, guinea pigs were blasted for five hours with 115 decibels of sound -- about the equivalent of a chainsaw. The racket devastated the pigs' hearing, with the animals losing as much as 50 dB in certain frequencies.

But this loss was "almost completely prevented by giving NAC (N-acetyl cysteine, an antioxidant) before the noise exposure," said Jochen Schacht, director of Michigan's Kresge Hearing Research Institute, in an e-mail. "The average deficit was about 5 dB -- a detriment that would probably not even be noticed by a human patient."

For years, studies have shown similar results in guinea pigs and chinchillas -- rodents from Peru, with about the same hearing range as people. Anecdotal reports from doctors who have given their patients NAC treatments have also been encouraging. But there hasn't been a full-scale, double-blind test in humans yet, Danielson notes. The ethics of exposing people to damaging amounts of noise has been one of several hurdles.

In the armed forces, however, earsplitting sounds are already commonplace. So, starting next month, according to Marine Corps Times, incoming grunts to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego will be given the antioxidant pills as part of a six-week trial."

"That's the main ingredient in a nutritional supplement being marketed by San Diego startup American BioHealth Group. Using a patent from Army Col. Robert Kopke, the doctor running the test on the Marine recruits, the company began selling its "Hearing Pill" last month.

Taking the pill, according to American BioHealth's website (http://64.49.247.172/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=11), will help in "the remediation of the mechanisms that lead to permanent hearing loss, either before or shortly after noise trauma.""

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Quartus
December 19, 2003, 05:16 PM
either before or shortly after noise trauma


<sigh> Too late, I suppose. I fired that LAW (with no hearing protection) in the mid '70s. I don't suppose that qualifies as "shortly after".


Still, if it works and is safe, this is good news for a lot of people.

I don't think a pill is going to substitute for hearing protection completely. Even if this DOES work as advertised, I'll continue to wear ear protecting when shooting, and insist that all for whom I'm responsible do the same.

But folks who might be exposed to gunfire unexpectedly (LEOS) or who can't wear ear protection on their job (LEOs, military troops) will benefit.

Werewolf
December 19, 2003, 06:02 PM
Limited value at best and a downright menace at worst.

Why?

Because even with the pill there was a 5Db hearing loss. OK a person might not notice that - might not even notice 10db loss after the 2nd go around but by the 3rd go around you've lost 15 and so on and so on.

There will undoubtedly be those that will imagine this pill will prevent hearing loss and they will suffer as described above.

I don't see the usefullness of this pill - you still need hearing protection to prevent hearing loss.

zahc
December 19, 2003, 06:07 PM
I still think it is useful for combat. Heck, nobody I know wears ears hunting.

Brett Bellmore
December 19, 2003, 06:27 PM
Hearing protection I can wear for anticipated noises, like hunting, or at the range, or running the lathe at work. I'm pretty good about that, at 45 I've got barely measurable hearing loss, and that's due to an infection that ruptured my eardrum. Where I see this having utility is for unexpected noises. For instance, suppose you pack a concealed weapon? You also going to wear ear plugs the whole while? Probably not.

Might be nice to be able to hear what your lawyer whispers in your ear, in court. ;)

Mastrogiacomo
December 19, 2003, 07:11 PM
Too bad they don't have something like that for people like myself. I was born moderate to severely deaf in both ears due to Rubella. About the best I can do is wear hearing aids and remember to protect my ears well at the range.

Trisha
December 19, 2003, 07:43 PM
And I thought the best way to protect your ears was to take a half-dozen valium and wash them down with gin!

You don't do anything that could damage your hearing ('cept snore), and you don't hear anybody. . .

Note: Observed, NEVER tried!

(Ah, the things you see with an ambulance service!)

Q: 'How much gin did you drink?'

A: 'Only three pieces!'

:D

Trisha

tyme
December 19, 2003, 10:36 PM
Even if this helps just a little bit, it sounds :) great for police, people who ccw, etc.

Double Naught Spy
December 20, 2003, 12:12 AM
So as a CCW person, what am I going to do? Am I going to carry around a little packet that says, "In case of gun fight or other louds noises, take one shortly after exposure" and then take it after the gun fight?

Now, maybe if you stick the pills in your ears, then maybe they would prevent some hearing loss instead of healing after the fact.

zahc, it is a shame that the folks you know that hunt don't wear hearing protection. The don't realize it, but they are damaging their hearing. It is a stupid way to damage your hearing, very very preventable now that muffs with sound amplification are available. They should be basic safety gear for all hunters and the muffs will actually increase their ability to hear noises around them because normal sounds are amplified.

Bruce626
December 20, 2003, 01:39 AM
I became intimate with 81mm mortar rounds dropping out of my hands into the tube and going boom next to my ear in the early '60s. Sometimes we'd do a couple of 106 recoiless rifles just for fun. No hearing protection. Small stuff like M1's on the range and 1911's didn't even count. Full auto with 50 cal was a hoot!

I helped this situation along by listening to soothing music by Iron Butterfly, Cream, et. al., which most of you don't even remember, but were really loud.

Now, I wear electronic muffs at the range over top of my dual hearing aids just so I can hear the range commands. Worse, even with very expensive digital hearing aids I can barely get thru a normal business day.

If advice is wanted, try this... protect your hearing at all times. There's no getting it back.

Huh? Say what?

Quartus
December 20, 2003, 09:59 AM
Sometimes we'd do a couple of 106 recoiless rifles just for fun.


Ouch. I joined the AT platoon (moved over from straight infantry platoon) as a TOW gunner just after the 106s were retired, so I wasn't around them. But most of the guys in the platoon had been. From what they said, the 106s were the worst - literally shook the jeeps apart after a while. They were constantly tightening things. That tube just reverberated, and it was high frequency stuff, too.



So as a CCW person, what am I going to do? Am I going to carry around a little packet that says, "In case of gun fight or other louds noises, take one shortly after exposure" and then take it after the gun fight?


That sounds like a GREAT idea, if this stuff works. Sure beats doing nothing.


No, it doesn't replace protecting yourself when you KNOW some noise is coming.

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