Health & Well-being17th June 2014

Tinnitus Research Heralds Hope for Sufferers

Medicine used to make us wee, make help with Tinnitus

by Sarah Lawrence

A common side-effect of hearing loss is tinnitus, a phantom hearing sensation described as hissing or ringing in the ears. Estimates of the prevalence of chronic tinnitus range from 10 to 15% of the adult population but the incidence rises sharply in specific groups such as the elderly, workers in noisy environments and war veterans. In about 20% of sufferers, tinnitus significantly affects daily life. A number of previous human studies have suggested that furosemide, a medicine used to make you wee more and relieve water retention, may reduce tinnitus in some sufferers. At least one in 10 British adults has tinnitus and 600,000 suffer so badly that their quality of life is blighted.

The following report in Bioresearch Online summarises the findings of scientific experiments in Australia which are seeking to identify the extent to which the medicine might help. 

Research conducted at the University of Western Australia and funded by the charity Action on Hearing Loss found that tinnitus could be eliminated by blocking signals between the ear and the brain. Tinnitus is a ringing of the ears which occurs in varying degrees and typically is associated with prolonged periods of enduring loud music or work environments. The condition can be extremely distressing with 1 in 10 people in the UK affected.  Tinnitus can disrupt sleep cycles and work concentration and lead to depression.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia conducted research on guinea pigs using the drug furosemide a week after the animals developed tinnitus. The researchers found that the furosemide drug lowered the activity in the auditory nerve, which in turn reduced the neural hyperactivity in the region of the brain that processes sound. After the course of furosemide treatment, the guinea pigs no longer showed symptoms of tinnitus.

The researchers are optimistic that they can bring the treatment to humans. Dr. Helmy Mulders, who led the research, released a statement on the group’s findings. “Studies in human tinnitus sufferers are still needed to confirm our results and to establish whether or not this approach will be effective for people who have had tinnitus for a long time, but our research shows that lowering the activity of the auditory nerve may be a promising approach to treating recently triggered tinnitus.”

Dr. Ralph Holme, who also participated in the study, said that there are practical steps that people can take to treat their tinnitus, such as wearing defenders at music concerts. However, he said that the research could eventually lead to a suitable treatment for those with difficult cases of the condition.

If you wish to read the research in more detail, it can be found at:

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

17th June 2014