New therapy to fight phantom noises of Tinnitus

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New York, Apr 2 (UNI) Modern life with the jolting buzz of alarm clocks, blaring sirens, droning televisions and ringing phones can be an everyday routine for people.

But for millions who suffer from severe tinnitus, the phantom tones inside their head are louder than anything else, researchers say.

Tinnitus, often caused by prolonged or sudden exposure to loud noises is an increasing complaint among soldiers returning from combat, users of portable music players and aging baby boomers reared on rock 'n' roll.

Researchers suggest new treatment in helping patients manage the ringing, pinging and hissing that otherwise drives them to distraction.

The most promising therapies were based on discoveries about the brain activity of people with tinnitus.

With brain-scanning equipment like functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers have discovered that the brain areas responsible for interpreting sound and producing fearful emotions were exceptionally active in people who complain of tinnitus.

''We've discovered that tinnitus is not so much ringing in the ears as ringing in the brain,'' New York Times quoted Thomas J Brozoski, a tinnitus researcher at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine as saying.

The Neuromonics device which looks like an MP3 player and delivers sound spanning the full auditory spectrum, digitally embedded in soothing music was 90 per cent successful at reducing tinnitus, said Anne Howell, audiologist at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Other treatments include surgically implanted electrodes and noninvasive magnetic stimulation, both intended to disrupt and possibly reset the faulty brain signals responsible for tinnitus.

UNI XC PD GC1146

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