Magnesium Could Offer Fresh Hope to Tinnitus Sufferers - NL-020
It's not uncommon to experience a ringing sound in your ears after a night out with loud music. Most of the time, this sensation dissipates on its own. However, what would you do if the ringing persisted and never went away when you woke up the next morning?
Tinnitus is a phantom perception of sound and it is estimated that 10% to 15% of adults worldwide experience it. Despite this, there is no drug therapy available to treat this condition as there is still a lack of comprehension about how it begins and what prevents it from disappearing.
Changes in the sending and receiving of signals in the brain occur continually. This process, known as "plasticity", can either increase or decrease the intensity of the signals. When there is an increase, it is referred to as "long-term potentiation", which is an essential factor for our learning and recollection of memories.
It has been suggested that tinnitus is a phantom sound which is not present in reality, yet interpreted by the brain. To explore this further, researchers began examining the auditory signals being transmitted from the cochlea in the inner ear to the dorsal cochlear nucleus in the brain. This is where the journey to uncovering the cause and possible cure for tinnitus began.
The researchers were sure that increasing the sound level would cause the dorsal cochlear nucleus to reduce its incoming signals, and they were right. Loud sound exposure resulted in the dials being turned up, which overloaded the signal and eliminated the possibility of further amplification. The dorsal cochlear nucleus was left with a compromised state as a result.
What Triggers Tinnitus?
Initially, there is an experience of loud noise - either from an immediate explosion or from multiple exposures across a longer period. This results in some temporary hearing impairment or a feeling of being "hard of hearing" where everything appears to become muffled. In response, the cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus attempt to make up for this quiet environment by boosting their signal.
This intervention yields positive results, however; the signal increase is recorded in the dorsal cochlear nucleus after the temporary hearing loss has passed. As a result, tinnitus appears. This is a false signal that is developed without the presence of an outside stimulus. To sum up, tinnitus is a perpetual state of distressful learning.
It has been noted that after exposure to a loud sound, tinnitus can manifest at a specific frequency. Researchers have discovered that a diet high in magnesium can stop the dorsal cochlear nucleus from becoming overly sensitive and creating a "memory" of tinnitus. As a result, the subsequent presence of tinnitus can be prevented.
To move forward, researchers now need to establish what can stop the development of tinnitus and reverse it. As a starting point, they are exploring methods to raise the magnesium content in the brain or create something that works in a similar fashion.