Scientists have demonstrated that antioxidants may shield animals from hearing loss due to noise exposure. Now they are trying to establish if this would also work in humans.
Researchers from the universities of Florida and Michigan have been building on earlier findings that hearing loss is caused not only by loud noises that tear the structures of the inner ear, but also by the presence of free radicals.
That is why they fed animals beta carotene, vitamins C and E as well as mineral magnesium, the latter used to preserve blood flow to the inner ear and aid healing.
They theorized that the antioxidants will prevent hearing damage by neutralizing the free radicals, and their theory was fully confirmed by subsequent results.
Now they have set out to study the effect of supplements in college students at UF who wear MP3 music players and noise-exposed military troops and factory workers in Sweden and Spain.
Positive results would enable researchers to produce a pill supplement for factory workers or a nutritional bar included in soldiers’ rations.
According to Colleen Le Prell, a researchers at UF, "ear plugs [are the best protection against] noise-induced hearing loss, but in those populations who don’t or can’t wear [them]… supplements could provide an opportunity for additional protection."