Magnets stop the nightmare of tinnitus, researchers say

Brain stimulation is being used to ease symptoms of tinnitus.

A study has found that all patients given the treatment experienced some improvement; a year afterwards, some patients were still tinnitus-free in one or both ears. Tinnitus is the sensation of a sound in the ear, usually a ringing noise, though it can be a high-pitched whistling or buzzing or hissing.

It can be triggered by underlying problems, including diminished hearing, earwax, high blood pressure and anxiety, but in many cases the cause is unknown.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People says up to a third of adults report some tinnitus at some time. And for a number of sufferers their quality of life is severely affected. Although there have been many treatments over the years, including devices to mask the noise, distracters, anti-depressants and behaviour therapy, no cure has been found.

The new treatment, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), uses an electromagnet to generate pulses which stimulate part of the brain. This is based on the theory that people with tinnitus are thought to have overactivity in the temporoparietal cortex involved in processing sounds. The rTMS is thought to reduce this, and hence the perception of tinnitus.

Another theory is that the stimulation interferes with the tinnitus signals travelling along pathways in the auditory part of the brain.

Source - Daily Mail