Researchers studying the effects and causes of tinnitus have made a stunning breakthrough.
Tinnitus is the perception of noise, buzzing or ringing in the ears and affects up to 20% of the population.
Scientists at the University of Arizona have been studying how proteins influence brain inflammation.
In a large-scale study of mice, researchers first noted that hearing loss may occur due to the inflammation of the auditory pathway. Such inflammation is typical following injury- for example a bruise to the leg.
In mice that had noise-induced hearing loss, the study showed inflammation in the sound processing region of the brain controlled ringing in the ears.
The connection made between auditory inflammation and hearing loss is considered a significant breakthrough in the treatment of tinnitus and other hearing-loss related disorders.
Whilst therapy was successful in treating the mice, there is no suggestion of a human-based trial any time soon.
Common treatments that currently exist include ear wax removal, white noise machines and masking devices. However, hearing aids are considered especially helpful to treat hearing problems such as tinnitus.
There are also tinnitus retraining devices that deliver tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus experienced.
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