Hearing loss is a common
problem that impacts quality of life for the patient, family members, and
caretakers. Unfortunately, hearing loss is often undiagnosed and
untreated. The inevitable deterioration in hearing ability that occurs
with age --also known as presbycusis -- has many causes and can vary in
severity from mild to substantial. Left untreated, hearing loss of a
moderate or greater degree affects communication and can contribute to
isolation, depression, and, possibly, loss in
Vision and hearing loss share a number of common risk factors, including aging,
cigarette smoking, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and diabetes.
Therefore, it appears that vision and hearing loss are potentially influenced by
diet and lifestyle factors. Diabetics have a much higher risk of developing
hearing loss as are nondiabetics which indicates high blood sugar levels to be a
There are certain nutritional treatment or prevention options to review.
Formal research regarding the field of hearing improvement from the use of supplements is practically nonexistent; and my experience with nutrients that improve hearing is limited compared to my experience with those that improve vision. My eyesight is normally 20/30 with a slight astigmatism. Hence, I can appreciate even subtle changes in vision that some nutrients provide. However, my hearing is excellent, and it is difficult for me to notice subtle improvements. However, there are certain nutrients that I am quite certain have a definite influence on hearing. These include pregnenolone, NADH, and pantothenic acid.
I first became aware of pregnenolone's effect on auditory appreciation while driving back to Los Angeles from a medical conference in Palm Springs, California. It was early evening, and I was changing the stations on the car radio when I realized that just about every song was pleasant, whether it was classical, jazz, rock, Gaelic, or country. That morning I had taken 20 mg of the hormone. I hadn't enjoyed listening to music that much since my teenage years. I have since noticed this auditory enhancement on multiple occasions.
The first time I noticed the effects of NADH on hearing was while dining at a Peruvian restaurant. They were playing Andean flute music in the background at a very low volume. I sat there mesmerized, in full appreciation of the gentle flute notes, while the three friends at the table could hardly hear, let alone appreciate the melody. My dose that morning was 5 mg.
Additional nutrients that can potentially enhance auditory appreciation include pantothenic acid, the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, the methyl donors, and some of the adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng. I am quite certain we will eventually discover many other supplements that improve hearing.
Fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids
There appears to be an inverse association between higher intakes of long-chain n–3 PUFAs and regular weekly consumption of fish and hearing loss. Dietary intervention with fish oils could prevent or delay the development of age-related hearing loss. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and fish and risk of age-related hearing loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010.
Folic acid and hearing loss
Folic acid supplementation appears to slow the hearing loss that commonly occurs with age, at least in people with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Previous reports have linked low folate levels with poor hearing, but it was unclear if administration of the vitamin could slow age-related hearing loss. To investigate, Dr. Jane Durga, from the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland assessed changes in hearing among 728 subjects, between 50 and 70 years of age, who were randomized to receive folate (800 micrograms) or inactive placebo daily for 3 years. Because there is evidence that folate may improve hearing by lowering plasma homocysteine levels, the researchers excluded subjects who had low homocysteine levels at the start of the study. At 3 years, the threshold for low frequency hearing increased by 1.0 dB in the folate group, significantly less than the increase noted in the control group. By contrast, high frequency auditory acuity worsened by a similar extent in each group, the researchers found. Whether the current findings are applicable to subjects in the US is unclear since at the time of the study, folate fortification of foods was prohibited in the Netherlands and, as a result, the subjects had baseline folate levels that were about half of those typically seen in the US population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007.
Vitamin supplements, antioxidants for noise induced
In experiments with guinea pigs, a combination of antioxidants -- vitamins A, C and E, plus magnesium -- seemed to protect the animals from noise-induced hearing loss. Dr. Colleen G. Le Prell, a researcher at the University of Michigan Hearing Research Institute in Ann Arbor, exposed guinea pigs to the decibel equivalent of a jet engine at take-off. One hour before the noise exposure and once-daily for 5 days after, the animals were given either the vitamin-magnesium combination, just one of the nutrients or a placebo supplement. In the end, animals given the antioxidant combo showed less hearing loss than the other groups did. Free Radical Biology & Medicine, May 1, 2007.
Vitamin E and vitamin C in the treatment of idiopathic
sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
Acta Otolaryngol. 2007.
The results of this study suggest that the administration of vitamin E and vitamin C to patients with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss has beneficial effects by reducing the level of reactive oxygen metabolites produced by inner ear ischaemia and reperfusion injury after treatment. In a retrospective chart review, a total of 87 patients were enrolled who fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: 1) sudden onset of sensorineural hearing loss, 2) cause of hearing loss unknown, 3) hearing loss did not fluctuate, 4) arithmetic mean of hearing levels at 250, 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz exceeded 40 dB and 5) treatment was started within 14 days from the onset of hearing loss. All the patients were treated with steroids and/or alprostadil. In the study group, patients additionally received vitamin E (tocopherol nicotinate, 600 mg/day) and vitamin C (1200 mg/day) orally. Results. The hearing gain after therapy was 29 dB and the improvement rate was 63% in the study group, compared with 18 dB and 44% in the control group.
Vitamin supplements can prevent hearing loss in
laboratory animals. The supplements used in the research are composed of
antioxidants -- beta carotene and vitamins C and E -- and the mineral magnesium.
Colleen Le Prell of the University of Florida gave guinea pigs the vitamin
supplements prior to a four-hour exposure to noise at 110 decibels, similar to
levels reached at a loud concert. The treatment successfully prevented temporary
hearing loss in the animals. Repeated temporary hearing loss can lead to
permanent hearing loss, and that prevention of temporary changes may ultimately
prevent permanent changes. The findings were reported at the Association for
Research in Otolaryngology's annual conference in Baltimore, Jan 2009.
Comments: Would taking these supplements prior to going to a loud concert reduce the risk for hearing damage?
Due to a certain hearing loss I have been taking tablets
that include Pregnenolone. Heres the rest of the ingredients: Vinpocetine,
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Choline bitartrate, Glycine, Alpha lipoic acid, L-cysteine,
Pyridoxine, Methylcobalamin, Folate, Ascorbic acid, Magnesium. I've been taking
them a month and have just read about the Pregnenolone. Naturally I'm worried.
The dosage is 20 mg a day. Can it harm vision? I have been feeling a bit odd
There are dangers in taking this hormone and one needs to use it with caution.
Rebamipide for hearing loss
Radical scavengers for elderly patients with age-related hearing loss.
Acta Otolaryngol. 2009. Department of Otolaryngology, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Minamiku, Hiroshima, Japan.
To assess the efficacy of treatment with radical scavengers for age-related hearing loss. Rebamipide (300 mg/day), alpha-lipoic acid (60 mg/day), and vitamin C (600 mg/day) were given orally for at least 8 weeks to 46 elderly patients with age-related hearing loss. Hearing levels after treatment were significantly improved at all frequencies. The results of this study suggest that treatment with radical scavengers has the potential to become an effective new therapy for age-related hearing loss.
Alcohol may cause hearing loss
Alcohol seems to temporarily drain a person's hearing -- particularly when it comes to discerning the sounds of conversation. The more a person drinks, the greater the deterioration in hearing at least in the short term. The hearing loss tends to be more significant in older people, as well as those who said they had a history of heavy drinking.
It's not clear why drinking may have this effect, but alcohol could either damage the auditory nerves or affect the brain's processing of sound. The hearing loss from alcohol consumption is short-lived. However, it's possible that regular drinking could alter people's hearing over time and cause hearing loss.
Certain chronic diseases may cause harm by interrupting blood flow to the inner ear or the brain. These include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also can be linked to some forms of hearing loss. Tumors and growths in the brain can be responsible in some cases. Obese teens and adults are at a higher risk.
Drugs that cause hearing Loss,
aspirin, NSAIDs, acetaminophen
Long term use of high doses of aspirin and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAID could cause hearing loss.
Two major classes of drugs currently in clinical use can cause permanent hearing loss. Aminoglycoside antibiotics have a major role in the treatment of life-threatening infections and platinum-based chemotherapeutic agents (for instance cisplatin) are highly effective in the treatment of malignant disease. Both damage the hair cells of the inner ear, resulting in functional deficits. The mechanisms underlying these troublesome side effects are thought to involve the production of reactive oxygen species in the cochlea, which can trigger cell-death pathways. One strategy to protect the inner ear from ototoxicity is the administration of antioxidant supplements.
Around the world, inexpensive antibiotics known as aminoglycosides have been used for the past 60 years in the battles against acute infections and tuberculosis, as antibacterial prophylaxis in cystic fibrosis and other patients, and in and other conditions. But these drugs also have been widely linked to irreversible hearing loss.
Email received 2006 - A comment regarding your coverage of our clinical trials on gentamicin and aspirin on your hearing loss web page: Yes, aspirin at high dose can cause hearing loss (temporary threshold elevations) and tinnitus. But these side effects are reversible and will disappear when aspirin is stopped. Dr. Jochen Schacht, Professor and Director, Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI.
Regularly using over-the-counter painkillers results in
hearing loss. Men younger than age 50 who regularly took acetaminophen more than
two times a week had roughly double the risk of hearing loss compared to men who
did not take acetaminophen regularly. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in
Tylenol and certain other pain relievers. Men younger than age 50 who regularly
took ibuprofen (the main ingredient in Advil) or other non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) at least twice a week had a nearly two-thirds
higher risk of hearing loss than men who took NSAIDs less often. Men who took
aspirin twice a week had a one-third higher risk. Dr. Sharon G. Curhan, of
Channing Laboratory and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston says that even
though these analgesics are available in the drugstore without a prescription,
they are still medications and there are potential side effects. Dr. Sharon G.
Curhan adds, "Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are the three most commonly
used drugs in the US and they could be one of the few preventable causes of
hearing loss." The American Journal of Medicine, 2010.
Progestin and Hearing Loss
Progestin, as a component of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) following menopause, appears to exacerbate deficits in hearing sensitivity and auditory speech processing. Sensory declines in elderly women, exacerbated by progestin, can significantly interfere with communication abilities, including speech and hearing, professional and economic productivity, family relations, and quality of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept 2006.
Can the daily use of a face cream containing Progestin
cause hearing loss?
I am not sure.
Noise Related Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the leading occupational disease and a major contributor to the development of age-related hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by sounds ranging from 120 to 150 decibels. Motorcycles, firecrackers and guns emit sounds in that range, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders in the United States. Heavy city traffic noise can be about 85 decibels. Noise measuring less than 80 decibels, even after long exposure, is unlikely to cause hearing problems. Loud noise is an attributable cause, at least in part, in about one third of the 28 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss.
Noise from public transportation, especially subways, may be loud enough to harm some passengers' hearing. Decibel levels on subway platforms reach as high as 102 -- louder than the noise level of a chain saw. Subway platforms are the loudest mass-transit sites -- registering at about 81 decibels, on average. Noise levels of about 80 decibels or higher are considered potentially hazardous to hearing, depending on how long and how often a person is exposed. People who only occasionally use mass transit have little to no risk of noise-induced hearing loss. People who ride mass transit daily, and for long periods of time each day, transit noise levels are high enough to cause noise-induced hearing loss over time. Noise levels inside ferries are nearly 78 decibels, while on buses that figure was about 75. On the commuter trains that connect the city with surrounding suburbs, the average decibel level ranged from roughly 71 to 76.
Loud Noise, Acoustic
Neuroma, and tinnitus
Prolonged exposure to loud noise increases the risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that grows in the nerve connecting the ear to the brain that is associated with hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and disequilibrium.
Head trauma, diving and scuba diving, sudden changes in pressure from flying, sticking cotton swabs or other objects in the ear can damage the ear drum.
Attitude about aging and hearing loss
Seniors who think hearing loss is just a part of growing old, along with other age-related stereotypes, may end up boosting their odds for poor hearing in their "golden years." A person's negative stereotypes about the elderly can have real consequences for personal health as he or she ages. People who have a more negative stereotype about the elderly -- that old age means senility or being feeble, for example -- perform worse on hearing assessment tests.
The prevalence of hearing loss in the United States is rising because of an aging population and the growing use of personal listening devices. Hearing loss is common among people 70 and older. But hearing loss also affected 8 percent of those in their 20s and 17 percent of people in their 30s. Exposure to workplace noise, firearms, and loud music are all risk factors.
There are several hearing aid treatment options, Including monaural or binaural fitting, with many sizes and styles, circuitry and feature options.
Genetics and Hearing Loss
Three genes may explain why some people exposed to loud noise suffer hearing loss. The genes, discovered by Professor Guy Van Camp and researchers at the University of Antwerp, are involved in the recycling of potassium in the inner ear, which is essential for normal hearing. Van Camp found the genes while studying more than 1,000 men who had been exposed to loud noise while working in paper pulp mills and steel factories in Sweden. Nearly 80 percent had been subjected to noise for at least 20 years. After testing the men's hearing, the scientists did a genetic analysis of the 10 percent of men who were most sensitive to noise and an equal number who were the most resistant. "Significant differences between the susceptible and resistant workers were found in the sequence of three genes KCNE1, KCNQ1 and KCNQ4," said Van Camp who reported the findings in the journal Human Mutations. Further studies of KCNE1 show the version of the gene associated with increased risk to noise causes the encoded ion channel to open more rapidly than the normal version. The defect could make people more sensitive to noise.
Q. I have taken quercetin and after a couple of days the tinnitus in my ear increases in volume. I also understand that tinnitus can also be a sign of hearing loss. Can quercetin cause hearing loss? or worsen one's tinnitus ?
A. We have come across no such research regarding quercetin and tinnitus or hearing loss, so we can't really say.
Q. My question: I see so many different supplements and
nutrients for improving and maintaining good eyesight, and I see that they even
seem to help relatively older adults whose sight might have decreased somewhat.
But are there nutrients or supplements to improve and/or maintain healthy
hearing, especially well into middle to late adulthood? I've seen my parents',
more so my father's hearing apparently decrease somewhat now that they're in
middle age; I don't want that for myself, plus I'd like to help them out a bit
(they could also use some eye supplements but that's another story...) So are
there ways to use nutrition and/or herbal medicine for healthy hearing, or is
decline simply inevitable?
A. There probably are some herbs or supplements that could help hearing but thus far I have mostly focused on vision and have not spent much time searching for hearing improvement, but when I have time I will look into it finding herbs for hearing loss. Folic acid may be a possible nutrient helpful in reducing the risk for hearing loss.
Do you think alpha
lipoic acid would help with
I don't know, there are many causes for this condition and perhaps a small minority of people may find some benefit.
Is there any role for rasagiline or selegiline in
preventing or slowing the progression of sensorineural hearing loss (presbyacusis)?
Is there anything else that might help?
All the info we have about hearing loss is listed on this page. We will update this hearing loss page as we come across more research.
Do you know of any nutrients that reverse nerve
deafness leading to hearing loss?
We are not aware of any at this time.
My son had PDA closure at the age of 2 after that the Dr advised to aspirin tablets for 6 months. (I do not remember the dosage). At the age of four only we noticed that he has a hearing loss. Currently he is using hearing aid. I thing his hearing loss is caused by aspirin tablets.
Dr Robert Rowen and others who write "healing
secret" newsletters tell us the that 600mg of Vit. C and 300 mg of Rebamipide
(because of the antioxidant compound called quinolone in the medication) will
reverse age related hearing loss. How do I find out more about this? What is
your opinion of it? Have you
heard of it improving hearing safely?
There is a study that showed some benefit with this treatment.
I am a 36 year old woman with sensory hearing loss. I
have hi pitch severe bilateral nerve damage and am unable to hear high pitch
sounds. The funny thing is that I have lived with this for some time and just
thought I couldn't understand certain people. I don't have a family history of
it, I've been to two concerts in my life, no virus that I could think of (other
than an ear infection in one ear 5-6 years ago), and just have no idea how this
happened. About a month ago, I started researching alternative forms of therapy
because I refuse to give in and wear a hearing aid as I have been functioning
well all these years. I keep running into articles about CoQ10, which is how I
came across you and your youtube videos. Attached please find an article that I
came across in my quest to restore my hearing and please let me know your
thoughts. There are actually 4 supplements that I guess should be used together.
"There are many reasons why hearing loss occurs including too much earwax, viral
infection, or too much constant exposure to loud noises. However, aging is the
main cause for hearing loss. Most traditional doctors believe there is no
possible way to get your natural hearing back once it’s gone due to the damaged
nerve cells, but according to many alternative doctors and specialist such as
ear, nose, and throat doctors, there are significant ways that may be able to
help reverse hearing loss and improve one’s hearing. Part of the reverse process
includes nutrients that enhance areas in cells that produce energy. There are
four nutrients that doctors say may hold the key in effectively reversing
hearing loss. Trying these nutrients for six months may help improve your
hearing and possibly reverse hearing loss. Acetyl-Carnitine has a combination of
amino acids that helps the areas in cells turn fat into energy. Take 150 mgs of
acetyl-carnitine a day. Antioxidants work to protect the body against the
onslaught of free radicals, the cause of many diseases. One of the most powerful
antioxidants is Alpha-Lipoic Acid, which is important to take when trying to
improve hearing or reverse hearing loss. Take 150 mgs a day of alpha-lipoic
acid. Glutathione is an enzyme that helps strengthen your body but also helps
two of the most powerful antioxidants, vitamin C and E, to work effectively.
Take 50 mgs of glutathione a day. Also, take recommended dosages of vitamin C
and E everyday. Another important nutrient is Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10. Take 60 mgs
a day of CoQ10. You can also increase your dietary intake of fish oils, known as
fatty acids, grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and seeds to provide more fatty
acids in the body." What do you think?
There are hardly any human studies with the use of natural supplements as a treatment to reverse age related hearing loss. At this time I am not convinced that taking such supplements would reverse the hearing loss but it is worth trying them one a time. Combining several supplements can sometimes cause side effects of excessive stimulation, rapid heart beat, and insomnia.