Ringing in the Ears is Hard to Treat

constant ringing in the earsHave you ever wondered why people experience constant ringing in ears?  If so, you may want to know that this ringing can actually be tinnitus.

Tinnitus is associated with astonishingly wide ranging brain activity, researcher’s report, which may be why the hearing disorder is challenging to treat.

Brain Activity and Tinnitus

Most people wonder what causes a constant ringing in ears and this can potentially shed some light on the question. About one in five individuals have tinnitus, which is the sense of buzzing in the ears or a steady ringing.

Tinnitus Case Study

A study included a 50-year old man who suffered from tinnitus in both ears. Researchers tracked his brain activity when his tinnitus was stronger and weaker. The results showed that tinnitus causes noticeably different brain activity than ordinary outside sounds picked up by the ears, according to the study published April 23 in the journal Current Biology. “Possibly the most remarkable finding was that activity directly linked to tinnitus was very extensive, and spanned a large percentage of the portion of the brain we quantified from,” study coauthor Will Sedley, of Newcastle University in the UK, said in a journal news release. “In comparison, the brain responses to some sound we played that mimicked [the guy’s] tinnitus were localized to only a tiny area,” he added. Activity connected with tinnitus was seen in nearly all the auditory cortex, along with other parts of the brain, the researchers found. The findings help explain why it’s so challenging to deal with tinnitus, and may lead to new treatments, the researchers added. “We now understand that tinnitus is represented quite differently in the brain to normal sounds, even ones that sound the same, and hence these cannot necessarily be used as the basis for understanding tinnitus or targeting treatment,” Sedley said. According to study co-author Phillip Gander, from the University of Iowa, “The sheer quantity of the brain across which the tinnitus network is present implies that tinnitus may well not only ‘fill in’ the ‘gap’ left by hearing damage, but in addition actively infiltrates beyond this into wider brain systems.”