UT Dept. of Psychology, ProMedica work together to combat hearing disorder

June 7, 2013 | News, Research, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Casey Cheap

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus, a condition characterized by a constant ringing sound in the ears that becomes more common as one grows older.

As of now, there is no permanent cure for tinnitus; however, new studies conducted by researchers at The University of Toledo and ProMedica could lead to new treatments.

Ringing in the ears tends to occur around middle age and is most likely caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise or the overuse of drugs such as aspirin.

Because tinnitus has been linked to both loud noises and high doses of aspirin, part of the research will focus on whether various drugs such as aspirin will make already degraded hearing worse.

Apart from aspirin, some cancer treatment medicines, antibiotics and antidepressants also have been linked to tinnitus.

“The current project is to test the effects of drugs on tinnitus in animals,” said Dr. Henry Heffner, UT professor of psychology. “The goal is to identify drugs that can then be used to treat tinnitus in humans. Our past work was on developing a test for tinnitus in animals. This will be the first time we have used the procedure to test drugs.”

The research is funded by a $25,000 grant from the Jacobson Center for Clinical and Translational Research and was issued to Heffner and Dr. Aaron Benson of ProMedica’s Toledo Ear, Nose and Throat Audiology.

“If everything goes as planned with the pilot program, an application for a larger grant will be submitted to the National Institutes of Health after one year,” Heffner said.

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