“Forget everything you knew about Tinnitus!”, researchers say, as they finally reveal the brain network responsible for ear-ringing and a truly shocking connection between tinnitus and epileptic seizures.
It first starts with a loud high-pitched ringing in the ears. Then the ringing begins to “drill” down your ears into your brain. After this, the ringing turns into a buzzing seizure, which can leave you completely paralyzed on the floor. If you suffer from tinnitus, this scenario can soon turn into a reality. Here’s what you must know about it.
The bizarre connection between tinnitus and Brain Seizures
According to scientists, tinnitus is, in fact, a seizure in the auditory nerve. As researchers from the University of Connecticut explain, brain seizures (epilepsy) and tinnitus are both caused by overstressed nerve cells. Here’s how this happens:
- Healthy nerve cells have a built-in system that slams on the brakes when they get too stressed
- But in some people, this braking system doesn’t work
- The nerve cells go crazy and begin to continuously “shout” at the brain
- When this happens, the brain gets overloaded and has a se seizure (epilepsy) or hears phantom ringing (tinnitus)
Among the common causes of tinnitus and seizures, researchers have identified the following top explanations:
- Head injury and head trauma caused by falls or hits
- Extreme cases of audio sensitivity, where even everyday sounds become unbearable. This can often occur along with various other symptoms such as nausea or dizziness.
- Brain inflammation and swelling, which manifests as a intolerance to light and sounds.
- Drug side-effects or various previously unknown allergies, which can trigger seizures.
Here’s where tinnitus hides inside your brain
Researchers Phillip Gander, of University of Iowa, and William Sedley, of Newcastle University in the U.K., finally uncovered the place in the brain where tinnitus was hiding.
They achieved this by recording data coming directly from the brain of a person with tinnitus and epilepsy.
The man was a patient of the University of Iowa’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program (ICEP) and the surgery involved removing the part of the brain that causes epileptic seizures.
To remove the minimal amount of brain tissue, doctors also implanted electrodes in and on the surface of the brain.
Then, in order to study the link between tinnitus and the brain, the researchers shut down the chronic buzzing by playing a loud noise for 30 seconds. After turning off the external noise, tinnitus can get quieter or go away for a brief period of time.
Lastly, they recorded brain activity. This way, they found out that tinnitus affects multiple parts of the brain— not just the sound areas— including regions related to emotions, memory and mood.
The results are promising, both for research and medicine. This way, scientists can now explain why numerous treatments for epilepsy and tinnitus do not work. At the same time, researchers can now focus exactly on the exact methods needed to fix both diseases.