It usually starts out small — you “hear” something that doesn’t come from any external stimuli. The sound may last for a minute or two and then dissipate. Some people go on to experience this noise more frequently. In severe cases, the sound turns into a constant and life-altering companion.
The name for this is tinnitus, which is a symptom of an underlying issue involving your auditory system. The team at BrainStim Centers has extensive experience helping patients find relief from tinnitus using an innovative technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Before we get into how TMS may be able to resolve your tinnitus, let’s take a closer look at this condition to help you better recognize the problem.
The many faces of tinnitus
As we mentioned, tinnitus isn’t a disease but is a symptom of a problem in your auditory system. This symptom is most often described as ringing in your ears, but the sound can also present itself as:
Sometimes the noise caused by tinnitus is like a roar or rushing sound.
While you can “hear” these noises, they don’t come from any external source, which means it’s created by a malfunction in your auditory system.
These sounds can come and go or remain constant. As well, the levels of the sounds can vary, depending upon the underlying issue.
Common causes of tinnitus
There are any number of problems that can lead to tinnitus, and here are just a few of the more common ones:
- Damage due to prolonged exposure to noise (working in a noisy plant or wearing headphones)
- Damage due to sudden, proximal noise (such as a bomb)
- Age-related hearing loss
- Ear infections
- Certain medications
- Trauma to your head or neck
- Blockages in your ear canals
- Blood vessel disorders
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Meniere’s disease (abnormal inner ear pressure)
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
When it comes to treating tinnitus, it’s imperative that you receive a proper diagnosis, which will dictate how you go about treating the problem and finding relief.
Tinnitus and TMS
In a best-case scenario, you’re diagnosed with an ear infection or wax buildup, both of which can be quickly cleared up. Unfortunately, tinnitus isn’t usually that easy to figure out and takes a fair bit of sleuthing. Even after an extensive analysis, you and your doctors may be unable to pinpoint the underlying problem.
In these cases, treating this symptom can be very difficult, which is where our TMS treatment may help you find much-needed relief.
To start, we perform a brain scan (MRI) to determine the exact target on the surface of the brain to treat. Using TMS therapy, we can deliver pulses into these areas to stimulate brain neuron activity.
If we find that you may benefit from TMS, we discuss an appropriate timeline — typically five sessions per week for 2-4 weeks. Each of these sessions (except for the first) usually lasts only 20 minutes. Because the TMS treatments are noninvasive, you’re free to get on with your day after you come to see us.
As you progress through your treatments, you should realize gradual improvement in your tinnitus, and we can always make some adjustments along the way for optimal results.
If you’d like to explore whether TMS therapy may hold the key to resolving your tinnitus, contact one of our offices in Encino or Valencia, California, to set up a consultation.