Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2016

We're Making Noise for National Tinnitus Awareness Week!

national tinnitus awareness week poster

May 16 to the 20th is National Tinnitus Awareness Week. Tinnitus impacts over 50 million Americans. Of this 50 million, nearly 20 million experience tinnitus chronically and two million classify the phantom whistling, buzzing, or whining sounds as debilitating. This year's theme is "Make some noise" about tinnitus to raise awareness. And that's just what we'd like to do. So here are the top five things you might not know about tinnitus.

1.) It's not in your heard. It is your head: Tinnitus is sound without a noise present just as some chronic pain is sensation with no physical source. And, it turns out, both of these conditions could be related to problems within the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is responsible for your moods, but it also plays a part in regulating sensory information. Researchers are studying whether a malfunction in this system, along with the brain attempting to "turn up" the volume on lost sound due to hearing loss has created a perfect storm inside the brain that brings about tinnitus. You can read more HERE

2.) A cure for tinnitus: Though there currently is no cure for tinnitus, as noted in this Guardian article, Retraining the brain may cure tinnitus, there is hope. As the article states, "After brain scans of 22 people at Georgetown University in Washington DC, scientists found that tinnitus occurs when one part of the brain tries to produce sounds to replace missing frequencies, and another fails to stop the unwanted sound – ringing – from reaching the auditory cortex." Some American researchers have discovered that by stimulating malfunctioning regions in the brains of rats they were able to cure tinnitus. This research is a few years old, but fingers crossed that it continues to provide answers that lead to a cure!

3.) Making some noise: The theme for this year's Tinnitus Awareness Week is "Make some noise." We'd like to oblige by sharing with you what one person's tinnitus sounds like to them.

After listening to that, you can probably understand why so many people with this condition also have a problem with depression.

4.) Tinnitus isn't just about the noise: Tinnitus sufferers are more likely to have problems with depression as well. Although this would make sense because of the stress of the condition, it's also thought to be physiological. You see, the failure of the limbic system to repress unwanted noise and sensations is only one job that this part of the brain is responsible for. The limbic system also plays a part in regulating your moods. This suggest that people with tinnitus should also be treated for mood disorders as well. That's where something like magnetic brain stimulation comes into play.

5.)Repeated magnetic brain stimulation eases tinnitus: Tinnitus does not have a cure as of yet, but there are different therapies, along with hearing aids, that can provide a relief. Repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation was invented in the 80's. In 2008, it was approved for use on patients who suffered from depression. Recently it has been put into use to help ease tinnitus--makes sense if tinnitus and depression both have roots in the limbic system that a therapy for depression would likewise work on tinnitus.You can read more about it HERE

In addition to this promising research, there are current therapies available to help ease tinnitus. These include advanced hearing aids with tinnitus blockers and maskers. If you'd like to learn more about these tinnitus and hearing loss solutions, visit your hearing health provider. If you need help finding an audiologist click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

Sean Michaels, Retraining the brain may cure tinnitus, From The Guardian, taken on May 19th http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jan/19/retuning-brain-may-cure-tin...

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