Do you have a non stop ringing in your ear that you have no way of silencing?
You could have tinnitus – but thankfully science could be on the verge of finding a cure.
What’s the cure?
A new study published in PLOS Biology, a peer reviewed scientific journal, saw the condition in mice be halted through the process of blocking a protein that induces brain inflammation.
While it is still unknown how tinnitus develops, the study thinks that the answer may lie in a molecule called TNF-A which stands for ‘tumour necrosis factor alpha’. This molecule interrupts the communication between neurons.
The mice studied in the experiment were given tinnitus by being exposed to loud noise for two hours and then were treated by blocking the TNF-A molecule. The mice were observed to have had their condition cured.
“Genetic knock out of TNF-A or pharmacologically blocking its expression prevented neuro-inflammation and ameliorated the behaviour associated with tinnitus in mice with noise induced hearing loss,” said Professor Shaowen Bao, study co-author.
The team behind the study said that these findings could make neuro-inflammation a therapeutic target for treating tinnitus, as well as other hearing problems.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that makes people hear noises that are not coming from an outside source, according to the NHS.
The NHS says, “You may hear these sounds in one or both ears, or in your head. They may come and go, or you might hear them all the time.”
The sounds can be described in a variety of ways, including a ringing, humming or buzzing noise.
“Hearing loss is a major risk factor for tinnitus,” the study warns, and while some people can get used to the sound and develop the ability to tune it out, for others the condition can be debilitating.
What can I do to help ease it?
While tinnitus does not have an absolute cure, the NHS offers a few ways to try and help ease it such as relaxing with deep breathing or yoga and listening to soft music or sounds to distract you.
If you see your GP about your tinnitus, you may be referred to therapy to help you to cope, including:
- Tinnitus counselling, which will allow you to learn more about the condition and how to cope with it
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which can allow you to change the way you think about tinnitus, as well as helping to reduce any anxiety caused by it
- Tinnitus retraining therapy, which uses sound therapy to help you retrain your brain to help you tune out the sound and be less aware of the tinnitus