Tinnitus is expected to effect 1 in 4 Australians by 2050. This staggering statistic is very concerning, especially considering the increasingly growing population within Australia. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, and people find different ways in which to manage the condition. It is often likened to hearing of hissing, buzzing or ringing sound continuously.
This condition proves to have significant distracting and at times distressing outcomes on people and their ability to function in day to day lives. People often report feeling distracted, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating when conversing. It is not clearly understood how Tinnitus is developed or why it develops, however, growing statistics are showing a significant increase in reporting across Australia.
Through fMRIs, we now understand that tinnitus is associated with hyperactivity in the auditory cortex. This hyperactivity of firing between neurons confuses the brain (as there is no stimulus for noise) and as a result it “fills in the gap” giving off phantom noise (this is the ringing or buzzing experience).
The next logical step was to see if through TMS treatment aiming to inhibit this excitatory activity can result in modulating the auditory experience. What research continues to find, is that by using inhibition protocol of TMS, tinnitus sufferers are beginning to feel the first signs of relief from this condition.
TMS treatment can do one of two main things. 1. It can stimulate an excitatory response to treat ‘underactive – hypoactive’ areas within the brain surface area; or it can, 2. Inhibit existing ‘hyperactive’ to reduce the activity in this area.
Recently, a study by Folmer and colleagues (2015) investigated the effects of TMS when treating patients with Tinnitus. The participants received one pulse of TMS treatment to their auditory cortex, with the aim of inhibiting neurons that were overexcited (giving phantom ringing sounds). Each participant underwent treatment for ten consecutive days and received a dosage of 1Hz at 2000 pulses, per day.
The findings were surprising for the Folmer and colleagues, with more than half of the participants reporting complete remission of symptoms of up to 6 months in duration. Folmer stated, “For some study participants, this was the first time in years that they experienced any relief in symptoms”.
Currently in the US, the Food and Drug Administration has approved transcranial magnetic stimulation for Depression treatment only. Further research is required for a larger clinical trail to refine protocols for the clinical use of tinnitus.
For more information on TMS treatment options, please contact our TMS Care Team on 1300 867 888 or email us for more information firstname.lastname@example.org