Neuroscience may offer hope to millions robbed of silence by tinnitus

An MRI of the brain of a chronic tinnitus sufferer reveals regions that are affected by the disease. Video still from PBS NewsHour

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

In a Washington State workers’ compensation claim, tinnitus can be recognized as a condition presenting permanent impairment at a level that correlates to a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award, resulting in a monetary payment at the closure of a claim. The Department of Labor and Industries policy is to pay a PPD award for tinnitus only in conjunction with a measurable level of occupationally-related hearing loss.

If you or a loved one have occupational hearing loss and associated tinnitus, a workers’ compensation claim may be filed for treatment and benefits. Feel free to contact us with any questions in this regard.

On Easter Sunday in 2008, the phantom noises in Robert De Mong’s head dropped in volume — for about 15 minutes. For the first time in months, he experienced relief, enough at least to remember what silence was like. And then they returned, fierce as ever.

It was six months earlier that the 66-year-old electrical engineer first awoke to a dissonant clamor in his head. There was a howling sound, a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard sound, “brain zaps” that hurt like a headache and a high frequency “tinkle” noise, like musicians hitting triangles in an orchestra.

Many have since disappeared, but two especially stubborn noises remain. One he describes as monkeys banging on symbols. Another resembles frying eggs and the hissing of high voltage power lines. He hears those sounds every moment of every day.

De Mong was diagnosed in 2007 with tinnitus, a condition that causes a phantom ringing, buzzing or roaring in the ears, perceived as external noise.

When the sounds first appeared, they did so as if from a void, he said. No loud noise trauma had preceded the tinnitus, as it does for some sufferers — it was suddenly just there. And the noises haunted him, robbed him of sleep and fueled a deep depression. He lost interest in his favorite hobby: tinkering with his ‘78 Trans Am and his two Corvettes. He stopped going into work.

That month, De Mong visited an ear doctor, who told him he had high frequency hearing loss in both ears. Another doctor at the Stanford Ear,…

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