Tinnitus is a condition where people hear noises in their head that are not actually there. It can be ringing in the hears, but it can also sound like buzzing, clicking or whistling. As you can imagine, these people are constantly suffering, and it also interferes with sleep. Some people only have it temporarily, but others are stuck with it chronically. Some people develop Tinnitus without any cause at all, while in others it’s caused by an excessive exposure to loud noises. But, a cure has been found, or at least something that could be a possible cure, so what is this thing?
It might be shocking to hear that 10% of the American population has suffered from Tinnitus at some point in their lives. Most of these people only have it in small proportions, but there are even people who can’t go to work because of it, and who are along with that suffering from a loss of hearing. So, it was about time something was thought of to help with it. The new cure that has been developed is a device that delivers half an hour of sensory stimulation to people with Tinnitus. The device delivered audio tones interchanging with light pulses to the cheek or neck. A study, where this device has been tested, showed that alleviated Tinnitus in patients.
This is an amazing revelation as the condition never had a cure that worked before, or it was a cure that would work temporarily or one that could even lead to loss of hearing. Therefore, this is amazing news for all the people suffering from Tinnitus. People with Tinnitus used to be sent to therapy, simply because there was no treatment, and unfortunately therapy usually would not work at all.
Therapy doesn’t work because Tinnitus is not a mental health problem, it’s a physical health problem. And that’s why this experimental device does work, it targets nerve activity. A specific region of the brainstem called dorsal cochlear nucleus is the root of Tinnitus. The method that incorporates audio and electrical pulses, named bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation, can reset the activity of our nerves. This process is called stimulus-timing dependent plasticity, which basically means that our nerves can be reshaped when stimuli are given at the right timing. This process resets the fusiform cells, which are the cells to receive and process sound but also sensation input. These are the cells that are off-beat when you’re experiencing Tinnitus. Resetting their activity will, after consecutive daily treatment with the device, result in the tinnitus going away. Studies have at least shown that daily treatment will eventually lead to the going away of Tinnitus, so it’s a promising treatment.
It’s still an experimental device and more research needs to be done, but this is a great revelation to start the year with. It’s one of the first cures that seems to actually deliver permanent help, although we can’t draw conclusions on that just yet. Now it’s up to science to push this device further so it won’t be long before people can start using it and actually be helped with their Tinnitus.
If you are suffering from Tinnitus, and can’t wait for new technology, Dr. Matthews can help. TMD may be causing the ringing in your ears. Visit our Austin Dental Office today to discuss options for TMD treatment.