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Alternative Medical Management of Tinnitus

Many of us have experienced ringing or buzzing in the ears before, sometimes short-term and temporary, and sometimes permanent.  This sensation is called “tinnitus” and is something that affects millions of people every day.  Tinnitus tends to be mild in nature as the ringing or buzzing will ultimately go away.  For example, if you attend a concert and are exposed to very loud music, you may have foggy ears or hear ringing or buzzing for a period following the concert.

However, there is a small percentage of individuals who suffer from tinnitus that is much more problematic.  Disabling tinnitus can affect sleep patterns, cognition, mood and even an acquired brain injury (ABI).  Tinnitus is very difficult to treat as it has numerous causes and many unanswered questions.  Because tinnitus is an area of medicine that is still under heavy research, many medical professionals have proposed alternative treatment options to help patients suffering from debilitating tinnitus that are further discussed below.

Transcutaneous Direct Stimulation (tDCS)

Transcutaneous direct stimulation (tDCS) is a method of neuro-stimulation which has been used to reduce tinnitus symptoms in some patients, resulting in few side effects.  With tDCS, electrodes are placed on the scalp, and a constant, low electric current is transmitted to certain parts of the brain thought to be involved in the development of tinnitus.  tDCS has helped some patients find relief from tinnitus, but the relief has often been short lived.  In other patients, tDCS has not been effective at all, so it is still unclear how effective tDCS is for the treatment of tinnitus.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

Repetitive trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is another method of neuro-stimulation that has been used to reduce tinnitus symptoms in some patients.  Like tDCS, electrodes are placed on one’s scalp with rTMS, but unlike tDCS, electromagnetic pulses are  transmitted to the brain with rTMS.  This treatment method has proven to be successful in reducing tinnitus symptoms in many patients, but there is still some controversy, as not all studies have clearly established that rTMS will be a viable treatment method for the vast majority of tinnitus sufferers.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Another method of neuro-stimulation used to treat tinnitus is deep brain stimulation (DBS).  This treatment method is more invasive than tDCS and rTMS but has still been shown to help treat tinnitus symptoms in some patients.  With DBS, electrodes are surgically placed inside the brain instead of simply being attached to one’s scalp.  The electrodes send currents to different parts of the brain, but it is not clear which part of the brain is best for using this type of neuro-stimulation.  Experts are studying DBS further to determine if there’s a particular part of the brain that DBS should be focused on to reduce tinnitus symptoms in patients.

Vagal Nerve Stimulation

Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) is another method of neuro-stimulation that has been helpful for reducing tinnitus symptoms in some patients.  With VNS, electrodes are implanted on the vagus nerve, and a connector goes from the vagus nerve to another part of the body, such as the abdomen, where the device gives off a pulse VNS used in conjunction with paired tones help to reduce tinnitus in certain individuals.

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins and supplements have proven to be helpful for many medical conditions and symptoms, and may be good alternatives for those who do not wish to pursue any method of brain stimulation.  As such, there is an aim to find out if there are any particular vitamins or supplements that will help treat tinnitus.  Medical professionals in the field have indicated in the literature that certain vitamins and supplements may be used to treat tinnitus and its associated symptoms, including the following:

  • Melatonin – Many people take melatonin as a sleep aid, and find it to be very helpful.  Because tinnitus disrupts nighttime sleep for some individuals, melatonin has been used to successfully treat subjective tinnitus symptoms.
  • Zinc – Just like a deficiency in B vitamins, some have suggested that a deficiency of zinc may contribute to tinnitus as zinc plays a role in ear function.  Some studies support a finding that zinc supplementation does help to reduce tinnitus symptoms in many people.
  • Gingko Biloba Extract – Some studies suggest that Ginkgo Biloba can be beneficial to treat both acute and chronic tinnitus.  However, because the cause of tinnitus is unknown for many people suffering from the condition, it is not clear whether or not Gingko Biloba extract will relieve every person from tinnitus.  Additionally, some controversy exists regarding whether or not Gingko Biloba extract truly does benefit those suffering from tinnitus.
  • B Complex Vitamins – Tinnitus has been associated with a deficiency in B vitamins.  For patients who have both a B12 vitamin deficiency as well as tinnitus, it has been shown that these particular individuals have felt some relief by supplementing their diets with B complex vitamins.  But, no formal studies have been done to prove that supplementation with B-complex vitamins helps to relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Stockton Tinnitus Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer.   If you or a family member has been seriously hurt in any accident, including alleged medical malpractice, please call me today at (209) 227-1931. or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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