Photo credit: Julie Viken

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Cochlear synaptopathy is damage to the nerve connections between the basic sensory organs of hearing, the cochlear hair cells, and the auditory nerve. Cochlear synaptopathy is thought to be the cause of hidden hearing loss, so-called because patients complain of being unable to follow one conversation among many, despite a normal audiogram. The audiogram may not really be normal — current standards allow a 15 decibel hearing loss to be within the normal range — but that discussion is not relevant to this blog post. 

Can cochlear synaptopathy be prevented by a drug? According to a report on the BioSpace website, maybe. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded an $825,000 grant to Delix Therapeutics to develop a novel non-hallucinogenic neuroplastogen to restore hearing by stimulating cochlear synaptic growth. Whether Delix will be successful in developing a drug that works and whether the FDA will approve it remain to be seen. That will be years, if not decades, in the future.

As a doctor, I’ve always thought that prevention of disease is better than treatment. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree with me. Noise-induced cochlear synaptopathy is entirely preventable. So until the drug is developed, avoid loud noise exposure, leave the noisy environment, or use hearing protection and you probably won’t develop overt or hidden hearing loss.

Share this article:

Article Categories

Search Articles