Could there be a gene that protects us from tinnitus?
Posted on Dec 8, 2016
Hearing loss is something that affects around 1 in 6 Australians, according to the Australian Network on Disability1. This includes people of all ages, for a multitude of reasons. However, Audiology Australia estimates tinnitus, the symptom of phantom sounds, to be twice as prevalent as hearing loss2.
For many people, tinnitus can get in the way of everyday life.
Tinnitus typically manifests as a continuous ringing sound in your ears, but can also be a buzzing, whistling, hissing or humming. You can experience it in one or both ears. For some people, these sounds get so loud, they can have a detrimental effect on everyday life.
There is no cure, but don't despair just yet! Researchers may have found a gene that could protect us from tinnitus. Let's learn a little more about it now.
The scientific breakthrough
The study was conducted at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Researchers used mice, and observed their behaviours with and without the GLAST gene, which is thought to be related to tinnitus.
"When the GLAST gene is knocked-out of mice on the C57 genetic background, the animals developed more tinnitus when exposed to salicylate, a derivative of aspirin known to be transiently toxic to ear cells," explains Christopher R. Cederroth, an assistant professor involved in the research.
By identifying that this GLAST gene could potentially protect against tinnitus, it means that scientists could go on to develop treatments to relieve the many symptoms of tinnitus. Although there is still much research around this gene, it's definitely a step closer to helping millions of people.
Living with tinnitus
For now, there are several things you can do to reduce the impact of tinnitus symptoms. There are medications which can cause or worsen the phantom noises you hear, so it's best to check with a medical professional first.
Tinnitus can also be a result of loud noise exposure, like after leaving a concert. In many cases, the ringing will subside a few hours later, but if ringing persists, it's a good idea to visit your local audiologist for a checkup, just in case it may be a more serious problem.
They will be able to guide you on how best to manage your tinnitus symptoms, whether temporary or not. Also, you could be eligible for a no cost* hearing test, so there's nothing to lose by booking an appointment.
With science uncovering many promising breakthroughs, there could soon be a cure for tinnitus. For now, click here to make a booking at a HearingLife clinic today, or give us a call on 1800 340 631.
1Australian Network on Disability, Stats and Facts. Accessed November, 2016.
2Audiology Australia, Tinnitus. Accessed November, 2016.