News Flash > Alternative Health


Turn Down Your Ears

Reported January 22, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Loud concerts and parties today -- hearing aids tomorrow, right? It turns out, researchers may have discovered a simple alteration to the ear canal that protects against acoustic trauma from loud noises.

An existing sound-limiting system in the ear sends signals from the brain to turn down sensory hair cells in the ear. However, researchers at Johns Hopkins found genetically altering a block on a protein involved in this process (nAChR) will further "turn down" the ear. Researchers say these findings show this existing system functions to protect the ear from acoustic damage.



"We think this pathway could be a therapeutic target for protecting from sound damage," Paul Fuchs, Ph.D., study author and professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, was quoted as saying.

Mice with the alteration were less able to hear soft sounds than normal mice, but they also suffered less permanent hearing damage when exposed to 100-decibel sounds -- levels commonly produced in nightclubs or in rock concerts.

SOURCE: PLoS Biology, 2009