BAS Message
Dec. 2011

1. The high-pitched ringing, squealing, hissing, clicking, roaring, buzzing or whistling in the ears that can drive tinnitus sufferers crazy may be a by-product of the brain turning up the volume to cope with subtle hearing loss, a new study suggest. The results, published in the Sept. 21 Journal of Neuroscience, may help scientists understand how the condition arises.

Tinnitus is a disorder of the brain, not the ear, says the study. One convincing piece of evidence: Past attempts to cure the condition by severing the auditory nerve in desperate patients left people completely deaf to the outside world — but didn't silence the ringing. Focusing on the 10 percent of people with tinnitus who seem to have normal hearing, they recruited 15 women with chronic tinnitus and 18 women who were free of the condition. Using electrodes they monitored the brain's electrical activity as the subjects listened to loud, rapid fire clicks. There were subtle abnormalities in the women with tinnitus. It suggests that there is more hearing loss in the general population than we realize, and a looming public health risk of considerable magnitude. Science News 5Nv 11

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updated 12/12/11