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Preventing Hearing Loss

May 8, 2018

Researchers are working to limit the hearing damage caused by loud noise.

Transcript

A view of a small part of the mammalian cochlea, which features rows of sensory hair cells (cyan) and synaptic sites (small green and yellow dots), where the sensory hair cells communicate to the nerves. (Juemei Wang/Oghalai lab)

A view of a small part of the mammalian cochlea, which features rows of sensory hair cells (cyan) and synaptic sites (small green and yellow dots), where the sensory hair cells communicate to the nerves. (Juemei Wang/Oghalai lab)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Ear-saving research. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Very loud sounds deliver a one-two punch to the inner ear. This according to USC otolaryngologist John Oghalai.

JOHN OGHALAI (USC):

When you’re exposed to loud noise, there’s at least two things that we know happen: you lose sensory hair cells and you lose auditory neurons.

HIRSHON:

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he and his colleagues report that loss of the sensory hairs is immediate and probably irreversible But the neurons die because of fluid build-up that takes a few hours. In lab mice, the team demonstrated a method to drain the fluid.

OGHALAI:

And so if we treated them within the first three hours, then we preserved a significant portion of those neurons.

HIRSHON:

The hope is the work will lead to a remedy that could be applied quickly to a soldier, construction worker, or anyone hit by a blast of sound – and thereby save their hearing. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon