It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, a condition where the patient experiences ringing or other head noises that are not produced by an external source. This disorder can occur in one or both ears, range in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and may be continuous or sporadic.
This often debilitating condition has been linked to ear injuries, circulatory system problems, noise-induced hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, medications harmful to the ear, ear or sinus infections, misaligned jaw joints, head and neck trauma, Ménière's disease, and an abnormal growth of bone of the middle ear.
A new study presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO shows promise for a tinnitus treatment using combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive method to excite neurons in the brain. The study included 32 patients who received either low-frequency temporal TMS or a combination of high-frequency prefrontal and low-frequency temporal TMS. Treatment effects were assessed by using a standardized tinnitus questionnaire directly after the therapy and three months later. Evaluation after three months revealed remarkable advantages for the group of patients who received the combination TMS treatment.
The results of the study support recent data that suggest that auditory and non-auditory areas of the brain are involved in the pathophysiology of tinnitus, and that this information can guide future treatment strategies.