SARASOTA – People of all ages suffer from an ear condition they might not even know they have.
“Tinnitus is one of those symptoms under inner ear, brain connections that continues to baffle us,” said Dr. Jack Wazen, Partner and Director of Research at the Silverstein Institute.
It’s the ringing in your ears after leaving a concert. It’s an aggravating sensation, usually subsiding in a few hours. Now imagine living with it all the time. Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from Tinnitus.
Dr. Wazen says, “The majority is degenerative related to aging of the ear, loss of hearing and loud noise exposure.”
It’s a common disability with veterans but it can also affect children. It’s a condition putting more than two million Americans out of work.
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It’s a very prevalent issue on the Suncoast. In fact, Dr. Wazen says if you look down a street in Sarasota, more than half are affected by Tinnitus to some degree.
There’s no cure to Tinnitus yet. The only treatment is masking through medication, hearing devices and surgery.
“One of the latest pieces of news that came out is on a study that is showing that when people are masking Tinnitus in conjunction with a shock stimulus, their response to the treatment than just masking it,” Dr. Wazen said.
Wazen is looking for an answer. His plan of attack is treating the problem at its source. “We place in the middle ear here with a needle, we place medicines in here so that the medicines can filtrate into the cochlea, in the middle ear to affect the cells of hearing,” he said.
A method Dr. Wazen believes is the best treatment.
“We’re going to find that magic drug. But we have to keep looking for it. We have to keep modifying chemicals, formulations, doses. Maybe the same drug that we placed at that dose didn’t work. Maybe at twice the dose, it will work,” Wazen said.
Remember to turn down the volume to turn down your chances of getting Tinnitus.
If you believe you’re suffering from these symptoms, Dr. Wazen urges you to visit your physician.