08 December 2014

A step closer to silencing tinnitus

Tinnitus may be eliminated by blocking the signals between the ear and the brain, an Australian study suggests.

For people suffering from tinnitus, the condition often affects their quality of life, such as causing trouble sleeping. Even though no cure for tinnitus currently exists, a study conducted by Australian researchers brings hope that a cure may be within reach.

After injecting a drug to reduce the signals from the ear to the brain in guinea pigs with tinnitus, the guinea pigs no longer showed signs of tinnitus. According to the researchers, the findings are promising. However, studies on humans suffering from tinnitus are still needed to confirm the method and results.

No tinnitus displayed

In the study, the guinea pigs were exposed to loud noise to trigger tinnitus. After confirming that the guinea pigs had tinnitus, the researchers treated the animals with a drug called furosemide. Furosemide lowers the activity in the auditory system, reducing neural hyperactivity in the part of the brain responsible for sound. In other words, furosemide blocks the signals.

After the treatment, the guinea pigs displayed no signs of tinnitus.

Silencing the noise

Today, people suffering from tinnitus can use practical steps to manage their condition e.g. listening to comforting sounds to get their attention away from the constant ringing.

According to Dr. Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss in the UK, the practical steps are not enough. “What people who suffer from tinnitus want the most is a cure to silence the noise. The research we have funded takes us a step closer to this goal,” he says.

To reduce the risk of contracting tinnitus, the researchers advise people to wear ear protection when at concerts and avoid high volumes on music players. 

About the study

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Western Australia and was published by PLOS ONE, an international online publisher with focus on scientific research.

Source: www.plosone.org

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