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TMS for Tinnitus
TransCranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS — The amazing FDA-approved tool for depression — is also becoming a viable option for treating tinnitus. Because of promising studies on the matter, Solara Mental Health in San Diego now offers its TMS treatment to those hoping to reduce their symptoms of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a bothersome condition with varying severities. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that nearly 15% of the general population has some degree of tinnitus. About 20 million have struggled with tinnitus, while 2 million have severe tinnitus with debilitating consequences.
Information About Tinnitus
Tinnitus is the perception of sound, commonly described as a “ringing in the ears,” that occurs when no external noise is actually present. Tinnitus can be either a temporary condition or a chronic and extremely bothersome ailment.
These noises can be perceived in many different ways depending on the person experiencing it. They may be low or high in pitch, and they may not always be heard in both ears. In the most severe cases, the noises are so loud that they interfere with one’s ability to hear real external sounds or even their ability to concentrate.
Some describe this noise phenomenon as
- And even musical noises.
The Two Types of Tinnitus
Subjective Tinnitus — is tinnitus that only the sufferer hears. This type is more common and may be caused impairments to parts of the ear. It may also be caused by nerve issues or auditory pathways within the brain that interpret sound.
Objective Tinnitus — is a rare type of tinnitus that can be heard by a doctor or nurse in an examination. It may be caused by damaged blood vessels, a middle earbone condition, or muscle contractions in or around the ear.
In many cases, the exact cause of tinnitus is not identified. Though, there are multiple health conditions that have been known to causes or intensify tinnitus.
Conditions that Cause Tinnitus
Hair cell damage in the ear is one of the more common causes. The tiny hairs in your inner ear are actually a key part of the complex framework your body needs to process sound. When they are damaged, they can leak electrical signals to the brain causing tinnitus.
Ear impairments, chronic health conditions, mental conditions, trauma to the ear, or nerves in the part of the brain dedicated to hearing may all cause tinnitus as well.
Many of the above-listed causes of tinnitus are preceded by one or more of the following:
- Presbycusis AKA Age-related hearing loss
- Exposure to extremely loud noises
- Earwax blockage
- Otosclerosis AKA Ear bone or nerve damage
Some less common causes of tinnitus include:
- Meniere’s disease — which causes abnormal ear fluid pressure;
- TMJ disorders — which affects the joint where the jaw meets the ears;
- Head or neck trauma — which usually causes tinnitus in one ear;
- Acoustic neuroma — a benign tumor on the cranial nerve;
- Eustachian tube dysfunction — which causes disfunction between the tube connecting the middle ear and the upper throat; and
- Muscle spasms in the inner ear — which may be caused by neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
Medications That May Cause Tinnitus
Certain medications may cause or intensify tinnitus. Typically, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse the tinnitus may become.
These medications have been known to include:
- Antibiotics, including polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin (Vancocin HCL, Firvanq) and neomycin
- Cancer medications, including methotrexate (Trexall) and cisplatin
- Diuretics (water pills), such as bumetanide (Bumex), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) or furosemide (Lasix)
- Certain antidepressants, which may worsen tinnitus
- Aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (usually 12 or more a day)
- Quinine medications used for malaria or other health conditions
Nicotine, caffeine, and certain herbal supplements can cause tinnitus as well.
Complications That May Arise From Tinnitus
Tinnitus has the potential to greatly affect the quality of those who have it.
Symptoms that commonly accompany severe tinnitus include:
- Concentration Difficulty
- Memory Impairment
How is Tinnitus Usually Treated?
Unfortunately, there are no current “cures” for tinnitus, and those struggling with severe tinnitus, historically, have not had many options to turn to. Furthermore, no two tinnitus cases or patients are exactly alike. And, what helps one person might not help another.
Most treatment options provide relief to the secondary symptoms that pair with the hearing sensations that come with tinnitus. Historically, many of these treatments have included medications and therapy to help an individual cope.
Thankfully, TMS has now emerged as an effective non-pharmaceutical option to provide long-lasting relief for tinnitus patients.
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TMS Treatment for Tinnitus
TMS is used differently depending on which illness is it used to treat. When used for tinnitus, TMS is placed over the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe. A 1Hz frequency from TMS has been generally seen to produce the best results in reducing tinnitus. Though patients may react differently to different frequencies.
A 2016 study showed that 47.8% of patients receiving TMS for tinnitus saw improvement. The group best received tended to be younger, male-gendered, had centrally located tinnitus, normal hearing, without sleep disturbances, and with shorter duration of tinnitus. Those who had tinnitus lasting less than a year saw a 60.2% success rate.
The above isn’t to say that TMS cannot help tinnitus outside of the given group, but rather shows an average tinnitus patient who will likely benefit from TMS. Since tinnitus affects everyone differently, some patients may be more receptive to it than others.
How Does TMS work?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can change brain activity without the need for surgery or the possibility of harmful side effects. Compared to other forms of brain stimulation therapy, TMS is remarkably simple and safe. The treatment involves applying electromagnetic currents to the head of the patient and using them to target areas of the brain.
During a TMS session, patients sit in a comfortable chair while the operator places a small device over a specific section of their head. Electromagnetic pulses then travel to the brain where they turn into electricity and cause brain cells to fire in the targetted area. This causes a chain reaction that awakens other neurons within their connected network. The amount of stimulation used and where it is targetted varies for each patient depending on their diagnosis and an assessment of their brain’s sensitivity to stimulation.
A typical TMS session lasts about a half-hour. Daily sessions, Monday through Friday, are recommended to receive the best results. Daily treatments typically last for 6 weeks before they decrease in frequency. TMS treatments are so non-invasive that patients can drive to our Mental Health Treatment Center on their own, receive treatment, and then continue with their day.
Get TMS for Tinnitus in San Diego
If you or a loved one has been dealing with tinnitus for weeks or months, consider getting a consultation with Solara’s Mental Health TMS experts. Our Mental Health Center in San Diego treats patients with TMS in both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
If you don’t live in the San Diego area, we can arrange for you to stay at our wonderful residential-inpatient mental health center.
Don’t let your condition worsen. Do something about it now and contact Solara Mental Health Center through the number below or send us a message with our floating contact button.
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
Müller N, Lorenz I, Langguth B, Weisz N (2013) rTMS Induced Tinnitus Relief Is Related to an Increase in Auditory Cortical Alpha Activity. PLOS ONE 8(2): e55557. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055557
Theodoroff, S. M., Griest, S. E., & Folmer, R. L. (2017). Transcranial magnetic stimulation for tinnitus: using the Tinnitus Functional Index to predict benefit in a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 18(1), 64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-017-1807-9
Wang, H., Li, B., Wang, M., Li, M., Yu, D., Shi, H., & Yin, S. (2016). Factor Analysis of Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Temporoparietal Junction for Tinnitus. Neural plasticity, 2016, 2814056. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2814056