Noise-induced hearing loss is becoming more
prevalent in Korea. There have been a number of discoveries and
advances that have increased our understanding of this kind of hearing loss but an effective
cure has yet to be developed. Researchers here in Korea, however, say they
may have the answer. Kim Min-ji reports. Lee Chang-gwon has worked in an engine room
for over 30 years,… something that has had a definite effect on his hearing.
He complains of his ears ringing, and he cannot make out little sounds. “I feel slightly deaf,… it also feels like
there’s something in my ear. I can’t hear quiet noises.” Lee has been diagnosed with noise-induced
hearing loss — a condition where cilia inside the ear becomes damaged and cannot pick up
sound. And with more and more people listening to
music through earphones,… the number of younger patients,… those from 10 to 19 years
of age,… with the hearing impairment… has jumped nearly 30 percent in just five
years. Making matters worse, once the symptoms start,…
it may be too late. “Noise-induced hearing loss refers to a condition
when the functions of the cochlea deteriorate. Once it’s damaged,… it’s hard to recover.” However, local researchers have found that
a substance used in asthma medication may help. In this experiment, the researchers exposed
a mouse to 112 decibels of noise for three hours,… and observed changes in its cilia.
They found that an infectious substance that causes asthma becomes active when exposed
to noise,… and increases the number of enzymes that damage the cilia.
The researchers then injected asthma medication into the mouse,… and found that the damage
to the cilia was minimized. “When exposed to noise, an enzyme known as
MMP-3 is released,… and this can lead to hearing loss. The asthma treatment showed
a protective response.” When the specific substance is extracted from
the asthma treatment,.. the researchers say it can be made into a new medication that
can prevent noise-induced hearing loss from worsening.
The findings have been published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.