Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Tinnitus - ringing in the ears

What is tinnitus?

Causes of tinnitus

Triggers for tinnitus

Prevention / remedies / cures / treatment for tinnitus

New hope from 2018 study

References

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a whistling, ringing, buzzing, or hissing noise that seems to come from inside the ears or head with no external source for the sound. The type of sound, the volume and the duration can vary depending on the person. It can stop and start, or continue for years.

Some people find it affects their sleep and concentration, making them depressed or anxious. Tinnitus is often linked to hearing loss, and sufferers cannot hear a range of other frequencies. They have difficulty hearing a conversation if there is other background noise.

About 15% of all Americans suffer from tinnitus, and nearly 1% of Americans have it so badly that it is difficult for them to work or carry on with normal daily living.

The most common cause of tinnitus is repeated exposure to loud noise. The tinnitus can occur immediately, or up to ten years later. Hearing damage from a single loud noise such as an explosion can also lead to tinnitus. Sometimes, there is no apparent cause.

Causes of tinnitus

A common theme is impaired or obstructed nerve impulse and circulation in the ear.

Triggers for tinnitus

WARNING. If you have tinnitus only on one side but not the other, see a doctor immediately. Tinnitus is normally balanced, with the same volume in both ears. If the noise is only in one ear, this is an indication that there is a disturbance such as a tumour on that side.

Prevention / remedies / cures / treatment for tinnitus

New hope from 2018 study

A study (1) published in January 2018 may lead to a device becoming available that can reduce or remedy tinnitus. It uses precisely timed sound and skin stimulation to target fusiform nerve activity in the brain.

According to lead researcher Susan Shore, in someone with tinnitus, fusiform cells create sound signals when there is no actual sound. "These signals are transmitted to the auditory part of the brain and are interpreted as sound when there is no sound stimulus," she said.

The study used a device to pacify fusiform activity by using a combination of sounds and mild electrical stimulation of the skin. Subjects in the study used the device for 30 minutes a day for four weeks. They had significant improvements to their tinnitus, which lasted for between one and four weeks. Further studies will determine how long the device needs to be used, how long lasting the improvement is, and any long-term effects.

The researchers noted that the tinnitus sufferers who benefited the most from using the device were those who could temporarily change their tinnitus level by clenching their jaws, sticking out their tongues, or twisting their necks.

References

1. Kendra L. Marks, David T. Martel, Calvin Wu, Gregory J. Basura, Larry E. Roberts, Kara C. Schvartz-Leyzac, Susan E. Shore. Auditory-somatosensory bimodal stimulation desynchronizes brain circuitry to reduce tinnitus in guinea pigs and humans. Science Translational Medicine, 03 Jan 2018: Vol. 10, Issue 422, eaal3175. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aal3175.