The Tinnitus Specialist Blog
Thoughts and inspiration from a Harley Street tinnitus specialist.
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.
Is It The Ear or Is It The Brain?
I was doing some research into tinnitus and neural plasticity and came across this 2002 article from the legendary David Baguley in the British Medical lletin. It discusses various models of tinnitus onset and generation. It's interesting that the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN), an area within the brain stem, was being discussed over 10 years ago - we now know that this part of the brain is instrumental in the onset of tinnitus that is caused by exposure to loud noise. There are at least two teams currently working on pharmacological interventions targetting potassium channels within the DCN in order to prevent the onset of tinnitus in those individuals who are exposed to loud noise. You can see my response to this in this post: More tinnitus drug research news... now with added spin!
The theory goes something like this: noise exposure causes damage to the inner ear, leading to hyperexcitability in the DCN. Processes further along the chain within the auditory cortex near the temples actually generate the tinnitus itself. This intervention reduces the hyperexcitability of the DCN, preventing subsequent changes within the auditory cortex. So in answer to the above question, it is really a bit of both.
The great thing about neural plasticity in the brain is that just as the brain can change to produce tinnitus, it can also change to produce less tinnitus.
What If The Tinnitus Is Already There?
Don't worry, there's help still available in the form of CBT, Mindfulness, Hypnotherapy, as well as combination devices such as the Siemens Micon (Amazing new technology in the Siemens Micon range to combat tinnitus) and the Phonak Audéo (Effective Tinnitus Treatment With The New Phonak Audeo Q90), invisible hearing aids (Effective Invisible Tinnitus Treatment With The Starkey Soundlens) and the SoundCure Serenade tinnitus suppressor (The Closest Yet To A Cure For Tinnitus?, A Great Response To SoundCure Serenade Treatment, SoundCure Serenade Switched Off This Ladys Tinnitus).
We're So Close To A Cure
As I mentioned earlier, we are so close to finding a cure now - around 70% of people who try SoundCure Serenade get a significant reduction in their tinnitus - about half of those get around a 40% reduction in their tinnitus and the other half get over 70% reduction in their tinnitus. You'll see from the stories above that some people get total suppression of their tinnitus. Over time, this can lead to the tinnitus being perceived less and less, with the eventual result that the Serenade may need to be used only once a week for up to an hour.