"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

The ringing in your ears is absolutely coming out of your brain

January 10, 2024 – Uncontrolled ringing, buzzing or noise in your ears can seriously affect your quality of life. Just ask Jeff Grace who did this Tinnitus.

“Tinnitus can be frightening, painful, annoying, isolating, stressful, overwhelming, depressing, distracting and annoying,” said Grace, a 41-year-old California native who works as a fitness instructor and coach.

Grace, who has suffered from tinnitus for nearly five years, said the condition affected his overall wellbeing and was mentally stressful.

“My ears are always filled with a high-pitched, ringing noise that doesn't seem to go away. It follows me around all day, almost like a constant background hum. “It can occasionally be more noticeable, especially in quieter environments, making it difficult to concentrate or enjoy quiet periods,” he said, adding that he has tried many options to manage his tinnitus.

“Avoiding anything that could make my tinnitus worse is ineffective. If the trigger is a loud noise, it can’t always be avoided.”

Tinnitus also can sound like roaring, hissing, buzzing, clicking, or squeaking and might vary in volume and pitch. It could be constant or occur from time to time. You may additionally hear more noise whenever you move body parts.

Accordingly the American Tinnitus AssociationMore than 25 million Americans suffer from some type of the disease, and about 5 million people have a chronic condition.

New research, latest hope

A new study from Harvard University's Massachusetts Eye and Ear offers groundbreaking insights into the brain's role in tinnitus—and its surprising importance.

A research team led by Stéphane F. Maison, PhD, audiologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, found that chronic tinnitus is associated not only with auditory nerve loss but additionally with hyperactivity within the brainstem .

In their study, published within the journal Nature, Participants within the study showed normal results on a conventional hearing test despite tinnitus symptoms. “But we know that doesn’t tell the whole story,” Maison said.

Why is that this?

“If you were in a car accident and lost your leg, you might experience phantom pain – the feeling that your leg is still there and causing discomfort,” he said. “This happens because your brain tries to compensate for the loss and becomes hyperactive, causing you to feel something that isn't really there.”

The same idea applies to tinnitus, he said. “We can use the same idea – the brain of a person with hearing loss tries to 'hear' something that isn't there, which can lead to perceived sounds.”

The excellent news: The team's research could potentially provide a particular technique to diagnose tinnitus. “There is no test for tinnitus as a chronic condition, so we are also trying to improve the tests so that they can be useful in clinical settings and in the treatment of these patients in the future.”

This signifies that a patient diagnosed with a condition related to tinnitus may not struggle with the symptom perpetually.

“The hope is to regrow hearing fibers that have been lost through drug therapy,” Maison said. “The consequence of this could be that we can reduce tinnitus by 'retraining' the brain through treatment.”

What are the causes of tinnitus?

Accordingly Data According to Yale Medicine, this damage could be attributable to something as minor as earwax buildup or attributable to a disease or disorder corresponding to:

  • Neurological problems, including a head injury
  • heart disease
  • An infection within the ear or sinuses
  • An inner ear disease
  • Ear and sinus infections/pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Hormone shifts
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • A side effect or response to prescription medication

Circulatory problems also can cause tinnitus. For example, a vascular disease that reduces blood flow in your body may cause a rhythmic sound pulsating ringing. Austrian researchers also suggest that age is a major risk factor for tinnitus.

Many patients find that stress makes their tinnitus worse, and identical to Grace, that is the case loud noises make it worse.

How is tinnitus triggered?

All conditions related to tinnitus can damage the body's hearing system.

“Nobody knows exactly where tinnitus originates in the brain,” said Tina Huang, MD, a neurotologist and assistant professor of otolaryngology on the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. “However, we know that tinnitus is caused by hearing loss.”

Accordingly Data From Harvard Medical School, sound waves flow into your middle and inner ear. Here, hair cells convert these waves into electrical signals, that are then transmitted to the auditory cortex of your brain. However, if something damages the hair cells, your brain is not going to receive these signals. Instead, abnormal activity occurs in your neurons and you could have an auditory illusion: tinnitus.

What current treatments for tinnitus may help?

“A doctor can sometimes treat tinnitus with a course of steroids,” Huang says. “Counselling can be very helpful so that patients feel less bothered by it.”

Grace found relief in this fashion.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy was a treatment that I found effective,” he said. “This type of counseling changes the way you view and respond to tinnitus. I learned some coping mechanisms from my therapist to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression caused by my tinnitus.”

Exercising and getting enough sleep also helped him keep tinnitus triggers like stress and anxiety at bay, he said.

This Treatment options may also be useful:

  • Maskers are small devices that may muffle the sound you hear
  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants if hearing loss with tinnitus may be very severe
  • Break and leisure. Huang puts it succinctly: “In addition to getting enough sleep, mindfulness can also be helpful in reducing the stress that can worsen tinnitus.”