Mice Cured of Tinnitus – Could Humans Be Next?

Tinnitus is one of the most common chronic health complaints in El Paso. It’s not just confined to Texas; some 50 million Americans experience a ringing in the ears. There is currently no cure, but new research into mice has scientists excited about a possible breakthrough that could help people with tinnitus enjoy peace and quiet.

Current Tinnitus Treatments

mouse in a cage

Tinnitus is a widespread symptom of an underlying medical condition that negatively impacts the hearing system. There is a wide range of diseases and disorders associated with tinnitus, which usually manifests as a ringing in the ears but has also been described as a buzzing, clicking, roaring, whooshing, hissing, whistling or humming sound. Its impact varies greatly by individual, but many people experience stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, concentration difficulties and memory loss.

The lack of a cure for tinnitus leaves sufferers dependent upon coping strategies to help manage their symptoms. Common treatment techniques include masking devices utilizing white noise therapy or patterned tones; meditation and relaxation exercises; noise avoidance and lifestyle changes. Their effectiveness depends upon the degree of the patient’s tinnitus; what works for one person might not do much for another. The real issue is that current treatment solutions are designed to cover up the problem but are unable to actually make it go away.

Research Study Has Scientists Hopeful for a Tinnitus Cure

A University of Arizona research team has released the results of a study on mice that provides a clue to the origin of tinnitus and other hearing-related conditions, including hyperacusis and central auditory processing disorder. What they found has many in the medical community excited over the possibility of a cure.

The results, published in a recent PLOS Biology Journal, back up earlier studies that suggested hearing loss caused inflammation in the auditory cortex, a region in the brain that processes sound. Researchers paid special attention to the association between inflammation of the nervous system and the auditory cortex in mice with a hearing impairment and found that, by blocking a specific protein that causes this inflammation, they were able to reverse the hearing condition, restoring normal hearing to the mice.

As tantalizing as this research has proven, much work needs to be done before trials on human patients are okayed. At this point, there are a lot of unanswered questions about side effects and other potential downsides to treatment that must be thoroughly addressed. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and the first real sign that a cure for tinnitus might be on the horizon.

If you’re suffering from tinnitus in El Paso, don’t worry – the strategies mentioned above, while not a permanent cure, have provided relief for millions of patients just like you. Make an appointment with an audiologist today to explore your treatment options.