The Tinnitus Specialist Blog

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Posted by on in Research

What is the evidence?

While I am researching tinnitus resources on the internet, one piece of advice seems to be almost universal - avoiding caffeine can help relieve tinnitus symptoms - sometimes it is expressed the other way round, i.e. caffeine can make tinnitus worse. However, what evidence is there to back up this advice? Indeed, do these people have any evidence to support what they're saying?

Truth is stranger than fiction

The truth may come as a surprise to you, but don't just take my word for it. I always try to be careful that any advice I give, or any treatment that I recommend, has good evidence to back it up. If the evidence isn't strong, or if I am giving my own opinion based on experience treating tinnitus patients, I will say so. However, the evidence on whether caffeine make tinnitus worse or not is now clear, thanks to Dr Lindsay St. Claire of the University of Bristol's Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies. That's why I tell people that they can carry on drinking tea and coffee, even though they have tinnitus. In fact, it looks like caffeine withdrawal is far worse for tinnitus than drinking moderate amounts of tea and coffee! You can read about a Dr St. Claire's research study here.

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Posted by on in Research
The How and Why of Tinnitus

Why Why Why?

Many people ask themselves "Why have I got tinnitus?", "Why did it have to be me?", "Why don't other people hear these sounds?", "What is making this awful sound in my head?"

Research Getting Close To A Cure

Research into the causes and mechanisms of tinnitus is still ongoing, and we are learning more and more about the hows and whys of tinnitus every day. It is a question that has puzzled philosophers and physicians since the time of Socrates, but we are very close to a cure, at least for some people.

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Posted by on in Research
Promising Drug Research To Prevent Noise-Induced Tinnitus

Scientists over at the University of Pittsbburgh (Pitt) School of Medicine have made a breakthrough in the search for a drug to prevent tinnitus after exposure to loud noise.

Thanos Tzounopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor and member of the auditory research group in the Department of Otolaryngology, Pitt School of Medicine says "There is no cure for it, and current therapies such as hearing aids don’t provide relief for many patients,” he said. “We hope that by identifying the underlying cause, we can develop effective interventions".

The team focused on the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN), an area of the brain that is an important auditory centre. The DCN has been found in previous tinnitus research on mice to become hyperactive after exposure to loud noise, and fire off random signals even when no sound is present. The new research looked at a particular kind of potassium ion channel, called the KCNQ channel through which potassium ions travel into and out of cells. It turns out that the mice have hyperactive DCN cells because of a reduction in KCNQ potassium channel activity. Normally, these KCNQ channels would act to dampen down the excitability of DCN cells.

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I've always found "catastrophising" to be an unusual and interesting word. It is a term coined within the realms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that refers to the tendency to make a mountain out of a molehill (magnification), worry about and be fearful of things (rumination), and feel unable to cope (helplessness). Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) uses the term "disasterising" in a similar way.

Tinnitus doesn't have to be a total catastrophe. We're learning more about it all the time, and there are treatments to help people cope with their tinnitus, as well as new products that can suppress tinnitus to varying degrees in the majority of people.

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Posted by on in Research
New Tinnitus Treatments 2014

What effective new tinnitus treatments are there in 2014?

Prospective patients and sometimes their loved ones often ask me if there have been any effective new tinnitus treatments discovered in 2013, or even if there is a cure for tinnitus yet.

I have to say that 2013 has been a good year for new developments in tinnitus treatment. We have some good evidence on the effectiveness of existing treatments, and some very exciiting new developments that have emerged out of research within the last few years from the University of California.

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