Tinnitus

Ground-breaking new therapeutic technologies like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and diagnostic technologies like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) make it possible to identify and target the neurological source of a patient’s tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a neurological disorder which is the symptom of an underlying condition such as age-related hearing loss or injury to the ear. Tinnitus is a fairly common ailment which is estimated to affect almost 50 million Americans [1] of which 14.8 million, or roughly 4.5% of the U.S. population, are severely impaired based upon 2019 population figures. [2]  Tinnitus symptoms range from the common description given by sufferers as “ringing in the ears” to buzzing, hissing, clicking and in rare cases sounds like music.  Tinnitus can be much more than an annoyance. Left untreated it can cause depression, anxiety, sleep loss and even (rarely) hearing loss. [1]

What causes Tinnitus?

A variety of health conditions can cause tinnitus [2] including:

  • inner ear hair cell damage
  • other inner ear problems
  • chronic health conditions
  • injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain
  • age-related hearing loss
  • exposure to loud noise
  • medications
theramind-labcoat-photo

Our approach

Until recently tinnitus was primarily treated using drug therapy. However, at the TheraMind center of Santa Barbara our neurologists have developed diagnostic tests and treatment protocols which have proven effective in substantially reducing or eliminating altogether pre-existing tinnitus symptoms. After an initial neurological/audiological examination patients perform a “frequency match” at the Center. This is followed by an fMRI to: 

a) confirm the tinnitus frequency,
b) identify the precise brain location where symptoms occur, and
c) eliminate certain potential causes (e.g. lesions).  

Next, our physicians develop a patient-specific treatment regimen which primarily involves using TMS therapy to inhibit an overactive brain locale.The fMRI images below demonstrate the impact of targeted TMS therapy on tinnitus with hyper-activity shown in red/yellow (Before) and much reduced red/yellow activity (After).

Results

Many patients have experienced relief from their tinnitus symptoms in as few as 20 TMS sessions. In one clinical trial real symptom relief was achieved in 10 TMS sessions. [4]

References

  1. “Understanding the Facts.” Ata.org, American Tinnitus Association, https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts. Accessed June 30, 2020.
  2. “Statistics by Country for Tinnitus.” RightDiagnosis.com. https://www.rightdiagnosis.com/t/tinnitus/stats-country.htm 
  3. “Tinnitus.” MayoClinic.org, The Mayo Clinic, March 5, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156
  4.  Folmer RL, Theodoroff SM, Casiana L, Shi Y, Griest S, Vachhani J. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment for Chronic Tinnitus: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;141(8):716–722. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.1219 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2388777

Take the first step

Contact us to schedule your FREE consultation today.

TheraMind Center of Santa Barbara

351 Hitchcock Way, Ste. B170
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (805) 845-4455 | Fax: (805) 845-9820