Tinnitus causes a constant ringing in the sufferers ears. Most people who suffer from the constant ringing have tried various treatments to no avail, in an effort to make it stop. There is no cure for the ailment, but doctors can check the patient for a number of underlying causes that can be treated. There are approximately 24 million tinnitus sufferers in the United States.
Those who suffer with tinnitus are advised to seek medical attention from a primary care provider. A general practitioner may give the patient a referral to an ENT or ear, nose, and throat doctor. ENTs are specially trained in ailments invoAll Postslving the ear, nose and/or throat, which are all connected. An affliction in one can cause problems in another; for example, a sore throat may be caused by an ear or sinus infection. Likewise, a person who suffers with sinus issues can suffer from hearing problems, including ringing in the ears.
Tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as ear wax lodged in the ear canal or from sinus problems. If either of these reasons is the cause, a doctor may be able to clear the wax or prescribe something to help with sinus inflammation. Other causes of tinnitus are noise-induced hearing loss, heart or vessel diseases, Miniere’s disease, hormone level changes, thyroid abnormalities and in rare cases, brain tumors.
If the doctor can find the cause of the incessant ringing, the underlying ailment can be treated, which may or may not make the ringing stop. Most people who suffer with the tinnitus are willing to give such treatments a try. If no underlying cause can be identified and treated, a healthcare provider may advise a patient to use a hearing aid, sound generator, cochlear implants, and/or acoustic neural stimulation. A doctor may also prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, or suggest counseling to help the patient sleep, learn to live with the constant sound and improve their mood.
Ringing caused by tinnitus is common in war veterans who served in a battle zone. It can be caused by damage to the tissue around the brain, in the area responsible for processing sound. Actually, tinnitus is the most common disability in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Researchers looking for a cure are actively studying electromagnetic stimulation of the areas of the brain responsible for hearing, hyperactivity and deep brain stimulation, the brain’s tonotropic map, to find out where hyperactivity begins and in what part of the brain treatment for it needs to be focused. Resetting the tonotopic map could be used to effectively change the incorrect tonotopic map. This might possibly cure the tinnitus that many people suffer from.
Another promising area of focus for researchers is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). With rTMS, researchers are able to send a brainwave pulse to the brain to correct the neurotransmitters that are misfiring and causing the constant buzzing sound. Additionally, recent research studies show that significant caffeine intake may reduce the chance a woman will develop tinnitus, but further research needs to be done to determine how they are related and if that information could be used to develop a treatment.
Clinical trials on the Serenity System are currently being done on humans and the research is being funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and there are currently three major cities, Dallas, TX, Buffalo, NY, and Iowa, IA. Participating patients will undergo a minor outpatient surgery to insert the device, after the device is implanted they must listen to tones every day for 2.5 hours and return to the clinic periodically, to be evaluated.
There is no known cure for tinnitus, but with studies like the current one being sponsored by the NIDCD, tinnitus sufferers hope the wait for a treatment to make their ears stop ringing will be over soon. Doctors suggest that tinnitus sufferers avoid load noises, especially for prolonged periods of time, eat a healthy diet and get a good night sleep. It is important for people who suffer from tinnitus to see a doctor and let their loved ones know what they are going through.
By Amy Gilmore