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The drug that could end the misery of tinnitus

A drug pump which is implanted in the ear is the latest approach for tackling tinnitus. It works by releasing a powerful new medicine that calms the overactive nerves thought to cause the condition.

Tinnitus is a ringing, whistling, buzzing or hissing noise heard for no obvious reason. It may be constant, or come and go.

It is estimated that about 15million people in the UK experience tinnitus at some time. For 10 to 15 per cent of sufferers, the condition is so loud and debilitating it affects sleeping and concentration. It has also been linked to depression and anxiety.

Tinnitus is linked to a number of factors, and can be a side-effect of some medication. It is estimated there are more than 200 medicines, including aspirin, that can cause it. Known as ototoxic medications, these drugs have the potential to damage the delicate structure of the inner ear, causing temporary or permanent hearing problems.

Tinnitus may also be the result of nerves in the ear sending faulty messages. This may be the result of a brain chemical called glutamate causing the nerve cells to become hyperactive.

Tinnitus is often linked to hearing loss – some scientists believe that when hearing is damaged in some way, by exposure to loud noise for example, there is excessive production of glutamate.

The high levels of the chemical then trigger excessive nerve firing, or hyperactivity, which results in the sufferer hearing sounds that aren’t actually there.

Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are products available to mask the sound.

Patients may also be offered tinnitus retraining therapy, which is based on the idea that the nervous system can be trained to regard the noise as insignificant.

The new therapy, developed by U.S.-based company NeuroSystec, uses a drug known as NST-001.

Read this article in full at the Daily Mail.