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Neuroscience, still offering hope to tinnitus patients

Josef Rauschecker, a professor of neuroscience at the Georgetown University Medical Center, describes tinnitus as the result of the brain trying to fill in the gaps of the neurons that no longer work, by creating an phantom sounds due to an excess firing of neurons in the brain’s auditory cortex.

An “amputated neurons” syndrom

He compares the sensation with the phantom pain one might feel after losing a limb. It happens because even though nerve hairs in the inner ear – the ones that transform the vibration into an electric signal that goes through the neurons into the brain to be perceived as sound – are no longer properly functioning, and even though the neurons lost their ability to correctly send the electric signals, the brain continues to fire. The brain, just like when you get an amputation, continues to “believe” your limb is still there and act as such. 

“The ENT’s say, ‘well it’s not in the ear, so we can’t help you,’” Rauschecker said. “And the neurologists usually aren’t very interested in this either, because they don’t understand it, and tinnitus is a small domain.”

As a scientist, Rauschecker considers that targeting the involved neurotransmitters could be the key for developing new treatments. He’s hoping to conduct a study on SSRI antidepressants drugs that can block the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Using the “happiness” hormone, an eventual treatment for tinnitus could be available on the market. But, only if the all premises prove right and only after years of intense studies and research.

Hope actually comes from alternative sources

According to James Henry, from the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Medical Center in Portland, there are plenty homeopathic drugs, vitamins and herbs that claim they can quick fix tinnitus online. Yet, most of them are fake, unreliable solutions, that cost a lot of money with no guaranteed results.

But researchers have always looked into alternative, natural solutions as being the only way of relieving an ailment without side effects, chemical-filled drugs or waiting on for years in a row for medical experts to receive funds to conduct experiments and test. Trying to avoid all these, we know reach the Institute of Hearing Performance and Silencis Pro.

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