They discover how hearing loss occurs due to loud noises

Human beings are exposed to an increasingly noisy environment. Condition that impairs hearing in ways we are only beginning to understand. However, recent scientific findings open a vein of hope in this discouraging panorama. A groundbreaking study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh shed light on the biological process that leads to noise-induced hearing loss.

They discover how hearing loss occurs due to loud noises1

According to an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Excess zinc in the inner ear is responsible for cellular damage after exposure to intense noise. This mineral, despite being beneficial for health in adequate quantities, when released in excess and uncontrolled after a loud sound stimulus, can have unfortunate consequences.

Symptoms for those suffering from noise-induced hearing loss range from a gradual or sudden decrease in sound perception to the development of tinnitus. A distressing condition involving the perception of ringing or non-existent sounds. But, the common factor is regular exposure to loud noises, such as those produced at a music concert. The complexity of this condition highlights the urgent need for scientific research that leads to effective treatment alternatives.

In the study led by Thanos Tzounopoulos, it was observed that zinc levels experienced an exponential increase hours after the individual was exposed to loud noises. This zinc overload causes a cascade of harmful effects on the cells of the inner ear, disrupting normal cellular communication and giving rise to hearing damage. Understanding this mechanism opens the possibility of counteracting it and from there emerges the solution proposed by the researchers.

A solution to prevent hearing loss.

To combat this problem, scientists tested a slow-release compound that retains excess zinc, which showed promising results in mice. This protective agent managed to reduce the probability of hearing loss and protected the guinea pig against cellular damage from exposure to high decibels.. These compounds act as ‘molecular sponges’, capturing excess zinc and thus preventing harmful effects on auditory cells.

Tzounopoulos’ team is moving firmly towards the creation of a preventive and therapeutic treatment, currently in a preclinical phase of safety testing. It is intended to be accessible and easy to administer, functioning as a shield against hearing damage due to noise for the general population.

Encouraging promise.

These are advances that emphasize the importance of research in the field of hearing health. Above all, for the promise of a significant improvement in the quality of life of millions of people affected worldwide. And access to auxiliary hearing aids represents a luxury for many people, since they are devices with a useful life that ranges between 3 and 5 years and involve considerable expense.

With high expectations, the scientific and medical community awaits the development of these treatments that could, in the near future, provide a practical and effective solution for an increasingly common public health problem.

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