A topical gel that can reverse sudden hearing loss

Illustration for article titled A topical gel that can reverse sudden hearing loss

In early middle age, tens of thousands of people experience an inexplicable, rapid hearing loss in one ear. Now doctors have discovered a simple topical gel that, when applied to the ear, restores hearing in over half their patients.

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The rapid onset of deafness in one ear is often part of a condition called "sudden sensorineural hearing loss" (SSHL for short). Though there are treatments already that work for some people, others have been unable to recover their hearing. That's where insulin-like growth factor 1, a growth hormone, comes into play. Doctors in Japan discovered that a gel infused with this growth factor could be applied to the deaf ears of people suffering SSHL - and after 12 weeks, 56% of patients showed marked improvement in their hearing. There were no adverse side-effects.

This gel is still in the testing phases, but could be on the market in a few years.

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via BMC Medicine

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DISCUSSION

As someone who thinks about ear morphology way too much, I was wondering how this treatment applies the gel to the inner ear. Since, ya know, the sensory neurons for the ear exist inside your skull and aren't really easy to access...

The hydrogel containing 300 μg of mecasermin was placed in the round-window niche of the middle ear following tympanostomy under local anaesthesia with 1% lidocaine.

Okay, all they do is puncture your eardrum and then inject a gel into your inner ear. That doesn't sound too invasive.