15 January 2010

Tinnitus: Scientific insights

Medicines and additives can exsacerbate tinnitus, according to scientists with an understanding of the biology of the condition.

The understanding of tinnitus has undergone a change since the 1990s. Tinnitus is commonly viewed as a condition with a psychological root, but a growing number of scientists believe tinnitus to be caused by biological changes in the brain.

This means that biochemists, brain researchers and audiologists have taken a new and greater role in the efforts to understand and explain tinnitus. New insights into the widespread condition are regularly gained from these hard sciences.

Eating habits
One area of increased attention among the scientists is how those with tinnitus are affected by what they eat or ingest.

Acetyl salicylic acid, an ingredient in many painkillers, is one example of a commonly ingested agent known to aggravate a tinnitus condition. It should be avoided by individuals suffering from tinnitus, according to Konrad Konradsen, a Swedish audiologist.

Tinnitus sufferers should also stay away from aspertame, an artificial sweetener which stirs activity in the brain. The same goes for glutamate, a sodium salt agent used to enhance food flavours. This recommendation was made by Manuela Mazzoli, an investigator of nutritional aspects of tinnitus.

Classical advice
The biochemically based advice complement a number of more traditionally recommended means of alleviating tinnitus.

Many tinnitus sufferers find that hearing aids reduce their symptoms. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss,and hearing aids may reduce the stress of bad hearing. Hearing aids may also provide a kind of sound therapy.

Relaxation exercises and pschological therapy are other means of reducing the effects of tinnitus.

The number one piece of advice is still to use earplugs to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Most commonly, tinnitus is caused by exposure to noise.

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