“Research labs around the world are exploring new ways to control – and hopefully cure – tinnitus,” explains the American Tinnitus Association (ATA).
“Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. It’s one of the most common health conditions in the country. Nearly 15 percent of the general public experiences some form of tinnitus. It’s not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying health issue, most frequently the result of some level of hearing loss,” according to the ATA.
For some tinnitus sufferers, their only affliction is a mildly distracting soft ringing in their ears. For others, an ongoing loud pulsating sound detracts from their quality of life.
Audiologist Dr. Susan Rogan, with offices in Westmont and LaGrange Park, explains that there is no cure for tinnitus, but several treatment options are available with more underway, to help sufferers manage symptoms.
The ATA is optimistic about several promising new experimental tinnitus treatments being tested, including “repetitive transcranial magnetic and current stimulation.” ATA says these non-invasive electromagnetic treatments hope to minimize the brain’s “neural (nerve) hyperactivity underlying tinnitus.”
Researchers are also exploring “deep brain stimulation” to conquer tinnitus, where electrodes are surgically implanted directly into the brain. This treatment was originally intended for Parkinson’s Disease patients, until the side effect of reducing tinnitus was discovered.
Implanting electrodes into the brain surface and the vagus nerve (which runs through the neck, connecting the brain to the heart) is being studied, as scientists weigh the risks of brain surgery against the amount of tinnitus relief.
Current treatment methods mask tinnitus, while future procedures aim to “return the brain to a state where it doesn’t generate tinnitus, but eliminates it,” states the National Institutes of Health.
For more information, contact Susan Rogan Hearing, (630) 969-1677 for the Westmont office, (708) 588-0155 for LaGrange Park, or visit www.susanroganhearing.com.