Content starts here

Ringing Ears Is All In Your Head, Literally

Lately, I've heard a lot talk in my group of friends about tinnitus (a constant hissing or ringing sound in the ear). A dear friend's husband has it, and he's found no medical relief. Another friend told me last week she's had it for a few years, and wonders if she'll return to a good night of sleep again.

You might be surprised (I was) that millions of Americans suffer from tinnitus. Whether it be from exposure to loud noises, medication or if it's age related, 2-3 million of sufferers can't even work, sleep or concentrate because of the effects of the condition.

The good news is that scientists may have discovered how to make it go away.

New research has shown that ringing in ears isn't necessarily a problem with the ears, but with a part of your brain called the auditory cortex. And Michael Kilgard at the University of Texas caused tinnitus in rats -- and took it away just as easily. How did he do it? By playing "a wide range of tones - all except the one matching the frequency of their tinnitus - and repeated this 300 times a day for three weeks."

At the end of the three weeks, the tinnitus disappeared in those rats, while the control rats still had it. Kilgard retuned the rats' brains.

If a case of ringing ears has you down, keep them open for news on the human tests of this study!

Photo credit: Getty images

Search AARP Blogs