Give 'Ringing Ears' The Needle
Acupuncture that calms nerves in the head and neck could relieve tinnitus, or "ringing in the ears."
A University of Michigan (U-M) study suggests that touch-sensing nerve cells in the face and neck increase their activity in the brain after hearing cells are damaged.
Research on animals suggests that available treatments such as acupuncture may provide relief for some people plagued by tinnitus, says Dr. Susan Shore of the U-M Kresge Hearing Research Institute in the January issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience.
People with tinnitus sense ringing or other sounds in their ears or head when there is no outside source. Whether it's mild and intermittent or chronic and severe, tinnitus affects about one in 10 people, U-M says on its website.
An estimated 13 million people in Western Europe and the United States seek medical advice for tinnitus and it is a growing problem for war veterans.
Since 2000, the number of veterans receiving service-connected disability for tinnitus has increased by at least 18 percent each year, according to the American Tinnitus Association.