Gulf War Veterans: Do you have Ringing in the Ears?

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Medical Research on a new device that may help those that suffer with Tinnitus draws attention of military veterans. The reuters news article is include below on another research report from The University of Texas at Dallas that might have implications for the gulf war veterans of 1990-91.  How many gulf war veterans have tinnitus?  That is indeed an interesting question that the VA might be able to answer.

Is this a common symptom of the gulf war veterans with gulf war illness?  We at Veterans Today want to encourage any gulf war veteran 1990-91 to reply and post your comment.  When did the tinnitus start in your case?  Has your tinnitus been documented in your medical records?  Did you get specific diagnostic testing in connection with this symptom?  Did any of the speciality doctors state if they were seeing this in their other gulf war veterans 1990-91?  Did you file a claim for tinnitus and was it rated?

You the reader can help your fellow veterans by sharing your comments.  But your comments might also trigger medical researchers to take notice and to follow up your thoughts with research and also to have the researchers involved in gulf war illness to provide feedback comments and thoughts on this topic.  Again Veterans Today encourage our medical providers and researchers also to share your comments here.

This indeed is an important area to consider for Gulf War Veterans 1990-91 since exposures to chemicals can cause nerve damage that might exhibit as tinnitus.  As the nerve damage continues, hearing loss may also occur.  How many Gulf War Veterans 1990-91 have experienced hearing loss?  This is your chance Gulf War Veterans with Gulf War illness to provide and discuss this specific issue.

Device Treatment May Silence Ringing in the Ears

Published January 13, 2011

| Reuters

A new treatment that retrains part of the brain that processes sound may help silence tinnitus — a ringing in the ears that afflicts 10 percent of senior citizens and more than 40 percent of military veterans, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.  They said a device that stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck while simultaneously playing different sounds for several weeks helped eliminate the condition in a group of rats.

A trial of the treatment in humans is set to start in Europe this year, said Dr. Navzer Engineer of MicroTransponder, a medical device company affiliated with The University of Texas at Dallas, whose study appears in the journal Nature.  Tinnitus is sometimes brought on by hearing loss. It occurs as cells in the inner ear are damaged, often from a loud noise. Current drugs help mask tinnitus, but the condition is incurable.

Engineer’s team thinks tinnitus may be caused when too many brain cells become tuned to a specific tone in the brain. So his team set out to train the brain to ignore the nerve signals that cause the ringing sound.

To do this, they paired a device that sends electrical impulses to the vagus nerve in the neck with different sounds. Stimulating this nerve releases chemicals such as acetylcholine and norepinephrine that trigger changes in the brain.

The University of Texas at Dallas team tested this approach in a series of experiments with rats, using an indirect but accepted method of testing hearing in animals.  In one, they stimulated the vagus nerve while playing different sounds 300 times a day for 20 days to a group of eight rats with a form of tinnitus. The tones were close to the frequency of the ringing sound, and the hope was to trick some of the nerve cells into listening to the new tones rather than the ringing tone.  When the team checked the nerve responses to different tones, the tinnitus had disappeared in rats exposed to the tones and nerve stimulation, but it persisted in a group of control animals.

“Unlike previous treatments, we’re not masking the tinnitus. We are eliminating the source of the tinnitus,” Michael Kilgard of the University of Texas-Dallas, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

MicroTransponder is developing a wireless medical device to stimulate the vagus nerve and hopes to test it in people later this year. Cyberonics Inc already sells vagus nerve stimulation devices for people with epilepsy and depression.  The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded a large part of the research.

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