New Frontiers in Tinnitus, Hearing Loss and Hyperacusis

Massimo Ralli*

New Frontiers in Tinnitus, Hearing Loss and Hyperacusis.

In 40% of patients with tinnitus, concomitant hyperacusis is present while 86% of patients with hyperacusis also report tinnitus. This testifies the strong connection between the two. Hearing loss can follow noise exposure, aging, acquired or genetic disorders, the use of ototoxic drugs and other pathological conditions of the middle and the inner ear and the auditory pathways; among these, age-related and noise-induced hearing loss represent, in the opinion of the Author, very interesting conditions for future research.

Hearing loss following noise exposure is gaining increasing clinical attention among workers and adolescents; the World Health Organizazion (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Agerelated hearing loss will probably be within the top leading causes of disease by 2030 and negatively affects mental health, interpersonal relations, and health-related quality of life (QoL).

In the vast field of hearing loss, therapies are an interesting research field to explore: the progressively increasing knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie cell death and reparation, inner ear genetics, advances in stem cell research and the development of new technologies to deliver therapies to their specific target, such as viral vectors and nanoparticles, certainly represents a solid basis for research in this area.

Among them, I’d like to put particular focus on basic and clinical research on the predisposing elements to acquired hearing loss to favour understanding in prevention and treatment, on the exploration of the pathophysiological basis of tinnitus necessary for future possible treatments, and on the correlation between tinnitus and hyperacusis, an interesting direction that could rise questions and give answers to identify target mechanisms able to help in therapeutic strategies.

Otolaryngol Open J. 2016; SE(5): Se1-Se2. doi: 10.17140/OTLOJ-SE-5-e001