Medication for military personnel to prevent hearing loss


Military service is known to be a high risk for hearing loss. Specific drugs, to be taken orally, are now being tested to prevent noise-related hearing loss in service personnel.

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a threshold equivalent to 85 dB for eight hours to minimize occupational noise-induced hearing loss. With M16 rifles and submarine engines generating noise at levels of about 120 to 160 dB, it is not surprising that hearing loss is common among veterans.

Kathleen Campbell, a researcher and professor in audiology from Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine, is looking into new pharmacological approaches to prevent hearing loss in this population. Her study involves testing a common antioxidant found in fermented dairy products. It is being carried out at the US Army’s Drill Sergeant Instructor Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

The clinical research project is investigating D-methionine, a sulfur-containing essential L-amino acid that works by neutralizing free radicals and stimulating production of glutathione, a natural antioxidant that may prevent hair cell damage. “You can give it after the noise exposure ceases and reverse the hearing back, preventing permanent damage,” Campbell says. In the study, however, military personnel are given a beverage containing D-methionine before, during and after they are on the shooting range over 11 days.

Campbell expects to analyze preliminary findings of the Fort Jackson study this fall. Other substances also being tested in this indication include N-acetylcysteine and ebselen, both antioxidant drugs.

Source: Military Times