Loud music played on earphones causes deafness by having a similar effect on nerves as multiple sclerosis (MS), scientists have learned.
Research shows that noise levels above 110 decibels strip insulation from nerve fibres carrying signals from the ear to the brain. Loss of the protective coating, called myelin, disrupts electrical nerve signals.
The same process, this time due to an attack from the immune system, damages nerves in the brain and results in MS.
Loud noises are known to lead to hearing problems such as temporary deafness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). But this is the first time scientists have been able to identify the underlying damage to nerve cells.
The findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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