Vitamin supplement slows hearing loss after antibiotics

A vitamin supplement may provide protection against hearing loss that sometimes occurs after antibiotic treatment, a study suggests.

A dietary supplement has been discovered to offer protection against the side effects of gentamicin treatment. Gentamicin is a drug used to treat people with bacterial infections that are resistant to other antibiotics, including penicillin. The drug is often used in developing countries, because it is cheap and easily accessible. Unfortunately, gentamicin has a serious side effect – it can lead to hearing loss. A vitamin enriched diet, however, can help prevent drug-induced hearing loss.

Dietary supplement prevents hearing loss

Previous research has shown that up to 25% of patients treated with gentamicin or other types of aminoglycoside antibiotics experience hearing loss. The current study investigates how to prevent drug-induced hearing loss.
Researchers from the U.S. tested the use of dietary supplements containing the antioxidants beta carotene and vitamins C and E, as well as the mineral magnesium, for protecting against gentamicin-induced hearing loss.
For two weeks, the researchers administered gentamicin to guinea pigs. Before and during the administration of the antibiotic, half the guinea pigs ate standard feed, while the other half received food enriched with vitamin supplements.
The researchers tested the hearing of the guinea pigs before and up to nine weeks after the treatment. They found that the guinea pigs that had received the dietary supplement had a better maintenance of hearing compared to guinea pigs eating a standard diet.

Vitamins offer protection

The antioxidant vitamins prevent hearing damage by destroying the free radicals, which cause hearing loss, and protecting against their effect.
“The best protection was obtained at lower test frequencies and that’s important because the lower frequencies are essential for speech,” states Colleen Le Prell, lead researcher of the study.
The researchers hope to use the results to develop a successful vitamin formulation that can prevent drug-induced hearing loss.

About the study

The findings were published in the Journal of Association for Research in Otolaryngology. The study was carried out in collaboration between researchers from University of Florida and University of Michigan in the U.S.