Ecstasy and noise: a deafening mix


© Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier (CC by-sa)

It seems that ear damage from noise and the drug ecstasy make for a deafening mix. American researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan (USA) have shown that ecstasy, chemically MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), worsens hearing loss related to noise trauma.

To discover this effect, they subjected four groups of rats to different situations. The first group received no treatment and served as a control. The second was given intraperitoneal injections of ecstasy, the third was exposed to damaging sound stimuli of 120 dB for one hour, and the last group was given the injections and was subjected to sound. The idea was to reproduce the behavior characteristic of certain clubbers and ravers.

Auditory evoked potential tests and histological analyses of the cochlea showed that although ecstasy alone had no effect on hearing loss, yielding the same results as the control group, ecstasy associated with loud noise caused more damage than loud noise alone. The damage was observed through changes in thresholds and more extensive damage to ciliated cells, particularly external cells.

Back in 2003, studies carried out in monkeys concluded that ecstasy alone had an impact on auditory evoked potentials. This highlights how difficult it is to find suitable models for this type of research.

Source: Church MW, et al. ‘Ecstasy’ enhances noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing Research 2013;302:96-106