Can Zinc Help Treat Hearing Loss?

Posted on February 13th, 2012 by author  |  2 Comments »

zinc for hearing lossDo you sometimes experience sudden hearing loss? Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is a phenomenon that affects five to 20 per 100,000 people every year. SSNHL recovery is possible, but the treatment for this hearing loss problem usually involves systemic and high-dose steroids, some of which have very little evidence of effectiveness.

Instead of trying these medications, there is another effective and natural treatment you can try: zinc.

A recent study showed that supplementing with zinc may have helped improve the hearing recovery of SSNHL patients. During the study, 66 patients were randomly divided into two groups. One group (control group) received corticosteroid treatment, while the other (zinc group) was given oral zinc gluconate plus corticosteroid treatment.

The researchers noted that compared with the control group, the zinc group had a significantly larger hearing gain, a higher percentage of recovery, and an increased rate of successful recovery. There is also a significant correlation seen between serum zinc level changes and post-treatment hearing thresholds.

According to the researchers:

“[Zinc’s] antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce the oxidative stress of the cochlea in SSNHL, implying a new direction in the treatment of this disease.” (link)

Zinc is Important, But Many People Are Deficient in It

The mineral zinc is highly valued today because it helps fight the common cold when taken at the onset of symptoms. There is also evidence that zinc may also have immune-boosting properties that provide your body with a stronger first response at the onset of a viral infection.

Dr. Joseph Mercola says: “The reason why zinc has received some attention in regard to fighting colds is it appears to have some anti-viral properties that prevent the cold virus from replicating or attaching to your nasal membranes.”

Zinc actually has more biological uses compared to all the trace elements put together. It plays a crucial role in:

  • Cell growth
  • Gene transcription (the process that allows your cells to understand genetic instructions)
  • Keeping your immune system strong
  • Balancing your blood sugar
  • Stabilizing your metabolic rate
  • Maintaining your sense of taste and smell (link)

Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is a common problem today. Studies estimate that up to 45 percent of people 60 years old and above may have zinc levels that are lower than the recommended amount. A National Health and Nutrition Examination survey also noted that even when dietary supplements were added, 20 to 25 percent of older adults still had inadequate zinc intakes (link).

“If you are deficient in zinc, your body may become less able to repair genetic damage caused by oxidative stress,” Dr. Mercola warns.

Oxidative stress is normally produced by certain body processes, but factors like pollution, mental stress, and obesity also lead to oxidative stress, which is linked to aging and chronic diseases.

Low zinc levels have also been shown to cause DNA strands to break. Zinc deficiency has been linked to different kinds of infection, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

Get Sufficient Zinc from a Healthy Diet

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is eight milligrams for adult women and 11 milligrams for men. Lactating or pregnant women need about three milligrams more, while infants need only about three milligrams. For children between four to eight year olds, five milligrams is advisable. Children nine to 13 year olds need eight milligrams.

Protein-rich meats and fish are good sources of zinc. You can also get this mineral from beans, raw cheese, raw milk, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk.

“If you are healthy and you eat a well-balanced diet, you will rarely need supplements to complete your body’s zinc needs,” says Dr. Mercola.

However, make sure you do not ingest too much zinc, as it can affect your body’s ability to absorb copper and other minerals. You must also be careful when using nasal sprays and swabs that contain zinc, due to many reports saying that some users lost their sense of smell after using these products.

Other Natural Remedies for Sudden Hearing Loss

Aside from ingesting sufficient zinc, other natural remedies that may help improve recovery in cases of sudden hearing loss include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Intravenous magnesium
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Dr. Mercola also advises you to immediately seek qualified medical help if you encounter sudden hearing loss. The sooner you receive treatment, the higher your chances of recovery are.

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