Scientists may have developed a cure for tinnitus, the persistent ringing in the ears that blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Britons.
In tests, researchers were able to stop the irritating noises by stimulating a nerve in the neck while playing a high-pitched tone into the ears. The technique – which ‘reboots’ the brain – has been successfully tested on rats. Clinical trials on humans are due to start in the next few months.
Around one in ten adults in the UK suffers from permanent tinnitus and around 600,000 have it badly enough to affect their quality of life. It can affect one or both ears and is usually described as a ringing noise, although it can also take the form of high pitched whines, rattling, low beeps or a rushing sound.
Tinnitus is often triggered by exposure to loud noise, which destroys cells in the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the brain.