A CURE for the hearing disorder tinnitus is a step closer after scientists discovered it might be eliminated by blocking signals between the ear and brain.
At least one in 10 British adults has tinnitus – a constant ringing in the ear – and 600,000 suffer so badly that their quality of life is blighted.
Tinnitus is caused by nerve damage in the inner ear and can be the result of exposure to loud music, an ear infection or even a cold.
Now researchers at the University of Western Australia have found guinea pigs given tinnitus by exposure to loud noise appeared to be cured by a drug called furosemide.
It works by lowering activity of the auditory nerve, reducing neural hyperactivity in a specific part of the brain that processes sound.
Dr Helmy Mulders, who led the research, said: “Studies in human tinnitus sufferers are still needed to confirm our results but lowering the activity of the auditory nerve may be a promising approach.”
The study was funded by the charity Action on Hearing Loss.