The crack of an M16 shot rings out at 156 decibels. A jet engine at takeoff blasts about 140 decibels. Submarine engine rooms drone along at 120 decibels.
Given that 85 decibels is the threshold for preventing permanent hearing loss, military service is unquestionably hard on hearing.
But what if troops could take a daily pill to protect themselves from noise-related hearing loss?
A researcher from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is looking into the prospect, testing a common antioxidant found in fermented dairy products on the firing range at the Army’s Drill Sergeant Instructor Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Kathleen Campbell, an audiologist and SIU professor, has been studying the protective properties of D-methionine — an antioxidant found in cheeses and yogurt — for well over a decade, testing its effectiveness in preventing damage caused by excessive noise and other sources.
Noise-related hearing loss occurs when cells in the inner ear, which vibrate when exposed to sound, become damaged from overstimulation. The response to the noise causes cochlear cells to release free radicals, damaging electrons which can kill off the cells.