Tinnitus is a chronic and incurable condition that affects 5-to-15 percent of Americans. Characterized by phantom sounds such as whistling, clicking, or roaring, this disorder can be debilitating in its worst cases.
However, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have begun studying a drug often used in the treatment of epilepsy, known as Retigabine, as a possible method of tinnitus prevention.† While it would not be a cure for this condition, it would allow users to proactively minimize the damage caused by high decibel sounds.
The study involved exposing sedated mice to damaging sounds levels for an extended period of time. Some mice were given Retigabine, while others were not. The mice that were given the drug during periods of exposure did not later develop tinnitus, while the untreated mice did.
In order to prevent tinnitus, Retigabine would have to be taken preemptively, before the onset of the condition. However, this could be very useful for anyone who works in a loud environment on a regular basis. Those who can anticipate being consistently exposed to harmful decibel levels may soon have an option to consider in the prevention of tinnitus.
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