Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no external stimulus. Research to treat and control tinnitus has been very difficult. It is due to many etiologies which has made research and treatment challenging. The disease can be due to pathology involving the outer middle or inner ear as well as the brain. A recent study by an international team of researchers has focused on the issue of how patients can hear sounds after the nerve connection between the ear and brain has been severed because of disease. How can a person hear phantom sounds in this situation. It would be impossible ? The researchers have noted that in fact there are several interconnected brain structures which upto now are not felt to be involved with tinnitus. The neural areas include the amygdala and the reticular formation. These are arousal centers of the brain. This may well explain why so many patients with tinnitus feel depressed anxious or under stress during active periods of disease.
There are several investigational drugs targeting neurotransmitters in these regions. In phase 2 and phase 3 studies they seem to be promising for the long anticipated treatments for tinnitus.