Sudden hearing loss is a frightening condition. About 4,000 Americans are stricken with the condition every year. In most cases, there is no known cause for sudden hearing loss — and two-thirds of people recover within a few weeks. For about one-third of individuals, however, hearing loss worsens. Until recently, there appeared to be no way of reversing the damage. But now scientists are hopeful that a powerful antioxidant called “coenzyme Q10” could help treat the baffling condition.
Researchers in Seoul, Korea, set out to evaluate the therapeutic effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 in patients suffering from sudden hearing loss. Between August 2007 and October 2008, 60 patients diagnosed with the condition were managed with steroid treatment for two weeks including a five-day hospital stay. A second group of 60 patients was managed with coenzyme Q10 for two weeks added to their previous treatment.
The researchers evaluated auditory function before and three months after treatment. The degree of improvement in average hearing and speech discrimination scores were calculated. The research team found that the total hearing improvement rate after the treatment was 75%. However, 47 patients in the coenzyme Q10 group showed better hearing improvement than 43 patients in the control group. In particular, the coenzyme Q10 group showed significantly higher improvement in the speech discrimination score. The researchers concluded that coenzyme Q10 may have beneficial effects in the treatment of sudden hearing loss.
What makes the ear susceptible to something like sudden hearing loss? Think of the complexity of the ear. When you hear something, sound waves first enter through the outer ear and then move on to the middle ear. The ear drum and ossicles then carry the sound vibrations to the inner ear and then to the cochlea. This starts the changes that lead to the production of nerve impulses, which are carried to the brain, where you interpret them as sound. Your ears are pretty amazing things — it’s not hard to see how something can go wrong with such an intricate process as hearing — and why you need to put some effort into the protection of your hearing.
Consider adding foods high in Q10 to your weekly diet. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are three of the highest sources of Q10. As far as vegetable sources go, spinach, broccoli, and peanuts are all high in the enzyme. Q10 is highly marketed as a supplement, but why pay big bucks, when you can get it naturally in fish?