Category Archives: Tinnitus

A life with An Invisible Illness.

Invisible illnesses are just as it sounds invisible, You can’t see them, no obvious symptoms to the naked eye.  That being said, living with a invisible illness is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Not only living with the daily symptoms, but living with the unknown.  Will I be able to attend the function on Monday?  Will I be able to drive to my Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday?  What if I get lost?  What if I have a attack?  What If I have a drop attack?  I always carry my medication with me and a bottle of water as if it were a security blanket.  Is it really going to help in this situation? No , but it makes me feel better.  I only will allow my self to drive 3 or so miles and I have to feel better than normal to drive, so its not on a regular basis, I have to have some one drive me places, which makes me feel bad.  My sensory system is in such overload, lights, patterns on carpets, wallpaper, crazy bright colors really bother me.  I can’t handle music even though I am deaf in one ear and going deaf in the other, it causes confusion in my brain.  A lot of people in one area cause confusion.  You loose friends and your co-workers or family members question your illness?  I have never actually wanted anyone to have my disease which is autoimmune disease, Vestibular dysfunction, deafness, fibromyalgsia, extreme fatigue.  But at the same time If they could experience it for one day, maybe they would understand.  Invisible illnesses are not easy to diagnose or treat and most are not curable, I use to hope this MRI is going to show a tumor that can be removed and I will have my life back and that is just not the case, I am meditating which can be a challenge in itself, with all the noise in my head and spinning, eye pain, ear pain.  It’s depressing, but I had to take a new approach to my disease and not let it define me, also had to think of this as a gift! Am I crazy?  Yes I look at this as a gift to understand what others are going through and trying to help them through there journey.  I know it sounds strange, Yes I wish I was healthy but until a miracle happens I can help others.  If any of you are dealing with this world, talk to me, I can try to help you if not support you in your journey.

Have a wonderful Saturday, Kelly

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Tinnitus and the cause!

Now We Know What Causes Tinnitus, That Never-Ending Ringing In Your Ears

Written by

Kari Paul

Contributor

Chronic pain and tinnitus, the incessant ear ringing that affects up to 30 percent of the adult population, may share a common source, new research shows. The finding may bring millions of people who suffer from both conditions a step closer to finding relief.

A study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences found the “phantom pain” in both disorders often begins as a response to an injury, but continues when a faulty “circuit breaker” in the brain is unable to properly process the pain or noise.

Josef Rauschecker, director of the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition at GUMC and one of the study’s authors, said the discovery is good news for those affected by both conditions. As of now, neither have direct treatments.

“The next step is ‘how could this be used for finding a cure?’” he said. “That is of course the challenge, but we are hoping to make some progress in the next 5-10 years.”

Rauschecker said brain imaging studies of tinnitus patients showed the condition was related to higher cognitive and affective brain systems. Meanwhile, separate researchers discovered the same mechanism was involved in chronic pain. Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and Germany’s Technische Universität München brought the research together for this paper, published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

“This is an amazingly rare occurrence of two fields independently coming to the same conclusion,” Rauschecker said.

In the study, researchers traced stimuli through the brain using MRI technology. They compared tinnitus patients with those who did not have tinnitus and found volume loss in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area that plays a role in the limbic system and functions as a “gate” or control area for noise and pain signals that is also associated with depression.

“We expected to find changes in the auditory system, but what really stood out was this significant volume loss in this part of the mPFC,” he said. “This is an area that also lights up when you play unpleasant noises, so it has to do with unpleasant sensations. It was not expected to see something there, but it fit well with previous findings.”

They found the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens are part of a “gatekeeping” system that determines which sounds or other stimuli to admit. When the system is defective, affected patients can be subjected to constant stimuli and long-lasting disturbances.

The area is also associated with depression and anxiety, conditions often arise “in lockstep” with chronic pain. Because of this, the researchers are now looking to drugs that regulate that system, like dopamine and serotonin, to restore the gatekeeping role and eliminate the chronic pain, but more research is needed.

“These are disorders that affect us every day, and many millions have them but we won’t be able to cure them unless we understand how they work,” Rauschecker said.

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Pulsatile Tinnitus.

What Is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

To understand Pulsatile Tinnitus, one must first understand what exactly tinnitus means. Tinnitus is the name given to a condition in which an individual hears a sound in the ear, usually ringing or whistling sound, without any source for the sound. Sometimes, the sound could resemble that of twittering of birds or that of your heart beating. This sound may come and go but when it is present it tends to be pretty annoying and distracting. Now coming to Pulsatile Tinnitus, it is a form of tinnitus in which the affected individual hears a rhythmical sound resembling that of a heartbeat. This form of tinnitus can be identified easily than the other forms of tinnitus and the same is true for the cause of it. Affected individual may experience pulsatile tinnitus or beating sound of the heart in both ears or in some cases only one ear. They may experience beating sound of the heart in the ear this while lying down or sleeping on one side.

 

 

What Can Cause Pulsatile Tinnitus Or Heartbeat Sound In Ears?

Pulsatile Tinnitus or heartbeat sound in ears is usually caused due to an apparent change in blood flow to the vessels which are present near the ears. Some of the vessels which may cause a Pulsatile Tinnitus are the large arteries and veins in the neck and base of skull and the smaller vessels in the ear itself. This alteration in blood flow can be due to the following factors:

Generalized Increased Blood Flow: It is observed that blood that flows faster tends to make more noise than blood that tends to flow a bit slowly. The rate of the flow of blood can increase due to many causes like heavy strenuous activities or during pregnancy. Blood flow can also increase in individuals who have medical conditions like anemia or an overactive thyroid.

Localized Increased Blood Flow: At times, the blood flow is faster only in a single vessel instead of in a generalized fashion. This can be explained by citing an example in which during development of a fetus there is an artery in the middle ear called the stapedial artery which closes as the pregnancy progresses but in some cases this does not happen and in such cases flow of blood adjacent to the ear structures can result in Pulsatile Tinnitus. Another cause of Pulsatile Tinnitus can be benign tumors of the head and neck.

Turbulent Blood Flow Causing Pulsatile Tinnitus: This happens when the inner part of the blood vessels become irregular thus causing turbulence during blood flow which results in production of a sound causing Pulsatile Tinnitus. The vessels usually become irregular because of a condition called atherosclerosis in which the arteries become hard.

Altered Awareness: In case if an individual has conditions like a perforated eardrum, then that individual will tend to hear more sounds from inside of the body since the external hearing becomes impaired. Also increased sensitivity in the auditory pathway tends to alert the brain to the sounds of the blood vessels.

Other Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus: There are some other causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus or heartbeat sound in ears as well like there is a medical condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension in which there are frequent headaches and visual impairment along with Pulsatile Tinnitus. This condition is found usually in overweight individuals. The root cause of this condition still remains unknown.

How Is Pulsatile Tinnitus Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Pulsatile Tinnitus, the treating physician will begin by taking a history of the individual as to the duration of these sensations. The physician will also inquire about any other medical conditions that the individual may have. The next thing will be to conduct a detailed physical examination examining particularly the ears and the neck. The physician may use a stethoscope to listen to any sounds emanating from the ear or the neck. Post this, a hearing test will be performed to look for any abnormalities in the individual’s hearing capability. The physician may also order some imaging studies in the form of ultrasound to look at the blood flow within the vessels of the neck. An MRI of the head and neck may also be performed to better look at the internal structures of the neck and also the ears to look for any sort of abnormalities. Apart from this, an MRA may also be performed to look at the veins and arteries to look for any sort of irregularities or hardening of the arteries causing Pulsatile Tinnitus. A CT Angiogram may also be done for this purpose. Some of the other studies that may be done to investigate the cause of Pulsatile Tinnitus are Blood tests to rule out conditions like anemia or hyperthyroidism, which are quite common causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus. In case if an idiopathic intracranial hypertension is suspected by the physician, then the individual may need referral to other specialists such as ophthalmologists or neurologists who may then investigate this further with their own set of investigative studies.

What Are Treatments For Pulsatile Tinnitus?

The treatment for Pulsatile Tinnitus or heartbeat sound in ears is based on the underlying cause for the condition. In case if Pulsatile Tinnitus is caused due to anemia then regular blood transfusions and medications directed towards treatment of anemia is good enough to treat the Pulsatile Tinnitus. In case of overactive thyroid causing this condition then treatment for that can treat the Pulsatile Tinnitus. If the tinnitus is caused due to a perforated eardrum then these perforations need to be closed by utilizing grafts. If turbulent blood flow due to hardening of the arteries is suspected for causing Pulsatile Tinnitus then repair of these narrowed and hardened arteries is required so that blood flow becomes smooth again and the Pulsatile Tinnitus is cured. In some instances, despite knowing the cause, treatment may not cure the tinnitus like in the case of a specific blood vessel causing Pulsatile Tinnitus which cannot be repaired just because of the location of the vessel. In some instances where there is no identifiable cause for the Pulsatile Tinnitus then the following therapies might be useful in controlling the tinnitus: Sound Therapy, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychological counseling, meditation, yoga and in some cases Tinnitus Retraining Therapy which has been found to be helpful for controlling symptoms caused by Pulsatile Tinnitus.

 
 
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