24 November 2003

Ear plugs in pill form

Six hundred US marines have been signed up for a test trial towards the end of 2003 in which they will be taking pills to protect their hearing during shooting exercises.

The new pill may provide full or partial protection against hearing loss from exposure to loud noise. The results from testing the pills on animals have so far been promising.

Under the supervision of a group of researchers, the marines will supplement their regular ear plug hearing protection with the medication daily for two weeks of shooting practice, according to CNN.com.

Generally, approximately 10 percent of soldiers participating in shooting practice lose some hearing even when using ear plugs. The researchers expect the medication to provide some further protection and a lowering of the number of marines suffering hearing loss. But the pills will never fully replace ear plugs.

The researchers hope that the new medication will strengthen the natural defense of the ear against damaging oxygen molecules often formed inside the ear from exposure to intense noise.

Noise-induced hearing loss is a common work related injury. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 33 percent of people with hearing loss blame it on excessive noise exposure. The researchers hope that ear plugs combined with the supplemental medication will help large numbers of people working in noisy conditions.

Source: www.cnn.com/health, 19. October, 2003, 'Pill Sought to Cut Hearing Loss From Noise' & National Health Interview Survey, series 10, number

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