How to Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Did You Know…that a vitamin supplement may successfully prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

Researchers have found a way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss with a simple substance—nicotinamide riboside (NR), a precursor to vitamin B3.  Even better, the researchers say it could have benefits for other aging-related conditions as well.

The landmark study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss? 

The cochlea is the auditory portion of the inner ear that transmits information through a complex system of nerves that ultimately transmit sound messages to the brain.  Loud noises can damage the synapses between nerves and the hair cells in the cochlea, resulting in noise-induced hearing loss.


Noise Induced Hearing Loss Affects All Ages

Approximately 15% of Americans between age 20 and 69—or 26 million Americans—have hearing loss that may have been caused by noise.  As many as 16% of teens have reported some hearing loss that could have been caused by loud noise.
     Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

How a Vitamin Stops Hearing Loss 

For the recent study, the scientists gave mice NR before or after exposing them to loud noises.

  • NR prevented damage to the synaptic connections
  • NR prevented both short-term and long-term hearing loss
  • NR was equally effective whether given before or after the noise exposure

Until now, treatment options for managing hearing loss have been extremely limited.  “This discovery identifies a unique pathway and a potential drug therapy to treat noise-induced hearing loss,” says Dr. Kevin Brown, lead author on the paper.

NR also has the advantage of being absorbed orally and reaching cells readily.  “It has all the properties that you would expect in a medicine that could be administered to people,” said Dr. Jaffrey, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell.

The Next Anti-Aging Miracle? 

NR may have other benefits beyond preventing hearing loss due to the way in which NR protects nerve cells—it increases the activity of the protein sirtuin 3 (SIRT3).  As we age, our levels of SIRT3 decrease.  This might explain age-related hearing loss.  Increasing SIRT3 activity has been shown to have a clear protective benefit for preventing hearing loss.  Even better, it could have a similarly protective effect against many other conditions.

“This study suggests that targeting SIRT3 using NR could be a viable target for treating all sorts of aging-related disorders,” says Dr. Verdin, an investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.  The researchers believe NR could help in the fight against metabolic syndromes like obesity, pulmonary hypertension, and even diabetes.

How to Use NR 

NR is already available as a nutritional supplement sold in health food stores and online.

Expert recommendations on NR dosage vary according to your needs and condition of interest.  Therefore, you are always wise to conduct your own research when it comes to vitamins and supplements, and to consult with a qualified health practitioner who can help guide you in your supplementation.