Introduction: Approximately 5% of the population worldwide suffers from industrial, military or recreational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) at a great economic cost and detriment to the quality of life of the affected individuals. This review discusses pharmacological strategies to attenuate NIHL that have been developed in animal models and that are now beginning to be tested in field trials.
Areas covered: The review describes the epidemiology, pathology and pathophysiology of NIHL in experimental animals and humans. The underlying molecular mechanisms of damage are then discussed as a basis for therapeutic approaches to ameliorate the loss of auditory function. Finally, studies in military, industrial and recreational settings are evaluated. Literature was searched using the terms 'noise-induced hearing loss' and 'noise trauma'.
Expert opinion: NIHL, in principle, can be prevented. With the current pace of development, oral drugs to protect against NIHL should be available within the next 5-10 years. Positive results from ongoing trials combined with additional laboratory tests might accelerate the time from the bench to clinical treatment.