Tinnitus, or the annoying and often debilitating phantom sound we seem to hear in our ears or head, is a distressing but common malady affecting over 50 million people in the US and millions more worldwide. It is an incredibly complex disorder. In fact, during most of my career as an ear researcher I avoided studying tinnitus because it is that complicated. I avoided it even though I personally have continuous ringing tinnitus in both of my ears! That is why our research is so exciting. God opened our eyes to some worthwhile discoveries allowing us to pursue the development of a pill that can treat this debilitating disorder.
Tinnitus is often a consequence of aging, medicines toxic to the ear, and/or noise damage that leads to hearing loss. In most cases, it is irreversible and there is currently no FDA-approved treatment. People with tinnitus often have the added challenge of hearing loss, too. For some, tinnitus is simply a nuisance, but for too many people it can be disabling. It can interfere with sleep, affect relationships, lead to isolation and depression, affect work performance, and become so serious some sufferers consider suicide as the only way to escape it. We are thankful the same medicine HEI is developing for tinnitus might also improve hearing and we are thankful a pharmaceutical company is partnering with us to bring this to clinical reality. It is a long road ahead, but we are hopeful this will provide real relief to many tinnitus sufferers.