Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Tinnitus

Vagus nerve stimulation and tinnitusWelcome all.

Today we will talk about some new progress that has taken place to help with tinnitus management. This article is about neurostimulation, more particularly the stimulation of the vagus nerve. I have come across information on research that involves vagus nerve stimulation and tinnitus and would love to share it with you today.

It looks promising and gives more hope to all the tinnitus sufferers out there.

This shows that with the constant development in technological advancements, even tinnitus is given attention to see as to what can be done to lessen or alleviate it in people.

This is so strange as my previous post titled, “Is There a cure for tinnitus, if not, is it the end of world?” talks about no cure currently available. Perhaps, with this new knowledge and research, we may have a foot in the direction of finding something close to a “cure”

Only time can tell, so lets see what happens….

The Purpose and Function of the Vagus Nerve

According to Wikipedia the Vagus Nerve is the 10th Cranial nerve. It is one of the longest of the cranial nerves and it stretches it fibers and sends impulses to almost every organ of the body.Vagus Nerve stimulation and Tinnitus

Vagus in latin means “wandering,” and the nerve can be found to make contact with our heart, lungs, abdomen and ears, to name a few organs.

Here are some interesting facts on the Vagus nerve,

  • Its activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System(PNS)- so it helps with relaxation, and in this way also controls the health of your immune cells.
  • The Vagus Nerve regulates the heart beat and controls breathing and body movement.
  • Excessive stimulation of the nerve can cause fainting, with the result of the skin becoming cool and clammy and associated nausea. This is called Vasovagal(vasomotor) Syncope or fainting.
  • The Vagus Nerve plays an important role in digestion, by contracting stomach muscles as well as muscles of the intestine, when food enters the body.
  • The Vagus Nerve also helps to prevent inflammation.

So, now that we are aware of the importance of the Vagus Nerve, let’s take at look at Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Tinnitus.

What is Vagus Nerve Stimulation?

Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Tinnitus

This is a regular pacemaker. The implant device used for VNS looks similar to this.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation(VNS) consists of a device that looks like a pacemaker. It is implanted into the patient’s left  chest area and has a wire that runs under the skin. This wire leads to the vagus nerve in the neck, on the left hand side of the body.

This implant generates mild, intermittent impulses that stimulates various areas of the brain.

This implant procedure takes about 1-2hours.The frequency, duration and intensity of the stimulation can be controlled by the operator performing the procedure.

Things to know about VNS

  • Approved in 1997 in the US,  as add on therapy, for controlling the frequency of seizures in adults and adolescents about 12years of age,
  • Approved in 2005 in the US, as add on therapy, for the treatment of chronic depression for patients 18years and older,
  • Approved for sale in countries such as Canada and Australia and other markets as a treatment for Epilepsy.In fact, to date, more than 40 000 people have been treated with VNS.

Now its time to ask the main question……

Can Vagus Nerve Stimulation help with Tinnitus?

The research that I referred to earlier is based on a company called MicroTransponder in Dallas. They have developed two VNS systems respectively. One is called the Tinnitus Serenity System and the other is called the Stroke Visitem System.

Vagus Nerve stimulation and Tinitus

Nerve cell releasing neurotransmitters

This is how VNS works for tinnitus.

Stimulation of the Vagus Nerve causes a release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are basically chemical messengers that are released into the blood stream and are responsible for conveying messages one from nerve to the next. (If you would like to know more, please check out my article titled, Potential New Drug Treatment for Tinnitus)

The Vagus Nerve is part of the learning system. Therefore stimulation of this nerve, releases neurotransmitters, that makes what happens in the immediate environment, important to the brain. In other words, this means that the brain’s attention is focused on this stimulation, which will then direct its learning, by taking the attention away from the tinnitus.

As I had discussed in Tinnitus and the Brain, tinnitus is a perception of noises(such as roaring, ringing, whistling) within the brain caused by an abnormal nerve circuitry taking place in certain parts of the brain.

Neurostimulation allows the brain to be introduced to a frequency that is different to that of tinnitus. This ‘re-training,’ of the brain to the ‘new’ frequency brings the abnormal firing of the nerves, characteristic of tinnitus back to normal.

Loud Noises

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises. This explains why soldiers who have served in the military complain so often of having tinnitus.Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Tinnitus

This exposure to the loud noise causes damage to the cochlea. The cochlea is a sea-shell part of the ear that is responsible for sending out the sound that enters the ear, as frequencies to the brain(e.g the auditory cortex) for interpretation.

Various portions of the cochlea capture certain frequencies. Damage therefore to the cochlea does not enable it to properly transmit frequencies to the brain.

Are you all with me????We are almost there, just stick with me!!

As a result, to compensate, the brain starts to look for information from other regions, which ultimately leads to you hearing “phantom” noises, or tinnitus.

CEO, Frank McEachen,is optimistic about this new development and has this to say, “..the result is that a large area of the cortex is communicating between itself which is faulty. Our device is designed to re-normalize this information transference.”

He further believes that this kind of stimulation of nerves directs learning of the brain which is different from the use of drugs.

Drugs may release neurotransmitters, but in doing this, it may just flood the system without actually allowing the brain to make importance of certain events.

This research has just completed its clinical studies. It has received a $5 Million funding and the project would go ahead with launches of the product seen in Europe.

⇒There are various medications that can aggravate Tinnitus. Learn more by reading the article, ‘The Medications that can cause Tinnitus.⇐

What are the common side effects of VNS?

VNS does not involve any surgical procedure of the brain and is a short outpatient procedure. It has a very low incidence of surgical complications, but there are some side effects associated with it.

They are

  • Sore Throat,
  • Coughing and
  • Shortness of Breath

The great part is that these side effects do go away over time. Furthermore, because it is not a drug, it does not interact with any medication.

Conclusion

I do not have any further information on availability or price of this product at this time.

Rest assured as soon I get more information, you will be the first to know.

So, will you try VNS, should it become available you?

I will leave you with a short clip from MicroTransponder discussing their vision of the VNS stimulation in helping with various neurological conditions in the future. Enjoy!!!

I hope that you enjoyed this article on vagus nerve stimulation and tinnitus. If you would like to share or ask anything please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

Everything of the best to you for 2016.

Regards

Roopesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Comments

  1. Norstad

    Hello, very nice post you have there. I’m quite impressed with the things that you shared. You are very knowledgeable about tinnitus. In my case, this is the very first time I encountered such a word.

    Keep up the good work. Looking forward to seeing more of your blogs. Best of luck.

    -Norz

    • Roopesh

      Hi Norstad

      Thank you very much for the compliment.Am glad that you liked the article.

      I find tinnitus to be a very personal and passionate subject to me to talk about.It has changed my life in a lot of ways, and I am still learning more as time progresses. I feel a need to help others with tinnitus and that’s why this site was born.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Roopes

  2. Njogah Njihia

    Very informative information on Tinnitus, plus the impoertance of the Vagus Nerve. I would like to ask a question. Can Tinnitus be exhibited in factory workers? Since that could be an environment with loud noise. I would also like to ask how long does the Vagus Nerve Stimulation last, and where one can get it done.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Njogah

      Thanks for your comment and questions.

      It all depends on the way the setting or the layout of the factory is, that would eventually cause someone to be subjected to tinnitus.Remember, continuous exposure to loud noise, is more than enough reason for someone to start having tinnitus. So if the factory environment has this, then I would say it is very likely.

      I personally have not done the VNS, so it would be really hard for me to say how long it last or where it can be done

      I will make it a point of finding out and let you know as soon as I have more information.

      Thanks for your questions.

      Take Care

      Roopesh

  3. Ann

    Hello Roopesh,
    Great article. I myself suffer from tinnitus. Mine has a mind of it’s own and comes and goes as it pleases. I never hear roaring or howling but yes to ringing and flat lining. It is very annoying and bothersome. I am also very very … extremely sensitive to loud noises, i wear ear plugs with different decibels for going to the theater and also when i am reading.
    I do facials and eyelash extensions at home and it is frustrating to concentrate on what I am doing when all i hear is persistent ringing. Meditative music helps.
    I shall be visiting your site regularly.
    Kudos on a great article.
    Ann

    • Roopesh

      Hi Ann

      Thank you very much for sharing, I appreciate it.

      With tinnitus, it’s varies from one person to the next.Whilst you hear ringing and whistling noises, I hear constant roaring and droning sounds. I can relate with you 100% on the fact that it is bothersome and annoying.

      I am glad that you find the ear plugs protects you from exposure to loud noises. I have learnt my lesson with this one.Especially taking into account the fact that I am deaf in my right ear, I CANNOT, subject myself to any furtherloud noise.

      I too find that meditative music helps with my tinnitus as well.If you are interested, check out the article I wrote on meditation and tinnitus. You may find something there that may help you with your tinnitus.

      Please do visit again, it is great to meet you.

      If there is anything that I can help you with regarding your tinnitus, please let me know.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  4. NemiraB

    Hello here, I think it is not so much interesting to have a noise in your or my ears. It can drive us crazy, if it does not stop. As I heard that tinnitus affects 1 in 5 people. I think that it is a big number.
    If so many people complain about it, it means that they have real problems. Of course, a cause can different for each other, but numbers are disturbing. I think that tinnitus can affect productivity and overall a quality of life.
    Your mentioned treatment with this little device sounds promising. As I understand, there are just clinical trials. They show great results.
    What it fascinates me that a stimulation of vagus nerve lets to retrain neurons in the brain and the problem will be solved.
    Okay, let’s wait till this device will show results for real patients.
    Thanks for information, all the best, Nemira.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Nemira

      Yes, tinnitus can certainly drive someone up the wall.

      In some instances, it can get even more serious.It can cause one to get anxious, depressed, and even worse, it can drive them to commit suicide.

      As you mentioned, the intensity varies from one person to the next.So too, does the various treatment options.That is the sole reason as to why I have created this site, to give tinnitus sufferers, different options to try out.

      I think you got the gist of how VNS works with regards to tinnitus.

      Yes, let’s keep our fingers crossed and see what happens in the future with this.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Take Care

      Roopes

  5. Todd

    Excellent post and very intriguing for those that suffer from tinnitus.

    I’d love to see the effect on patients with the vegas nerve stimulation. It’s incredible what independent companies can accomplish in technology and science.

    Hopefully by the time the my “band days” come back to haunt me, the medical community with have this system perfected, maybe without the implant.

    Cheers,
    Todd

    • Roopesh

      Hey Todd

      I appreciate your compliment.Thanks

      It would certainly be interesting to see what the future holds for this breakthrough.I think Companies are pushing the barriers and are realizing that technology and science can serve the demanding public across a range of medical conditions and problems.

      I will keep you posted on any further developments in this field.

      Take care of yourself.

      Roopes

  6. Tyler Redlev

    very interesting article about the nerve system. It is like the internet of our body!

    I didn’t know all this stuff about the vagus nerve. Seems like it was pretty important for us. Well, actually every little bit in our body is important to us. But i didn’t know all these connections of it with all these vital organs like heart and lungs.

    Was pretty interesting to read your post! Keep up the good work!

    • Roopesh

      Hi Tyler

      Thank you very much.

      Yeap, it is interesting, such a complex system we have and it all works perfectly together. Our bodies truly are an amazing piece of creation.

      Glad you found the article interesting.

      Take Care of yourself.

      Roopesh

  7. Richard U.

    Hi well done for the great post i must confess.

    I have not seen anything recently that is more detailed like yours.

    To be frank you should write a book on this and the sky will be your limit.
    My question is if factory owners has a glimpe of initial idea that noise also do lead to this illness in the long run, don’t we all think the current health and safety rule should be doing more than enough to help curb this?

    Especially the social responsibility aspect of it to the very employees and the comunity at large.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Richard

      Thanks for your praise.Thanks for the idea too, maybe I might just write a book.

      You point is excellent and one that I can certainly relate to.

      It is a tough one for me to answer. On the one hand rules and regulations are placed and these may vary from company to company depending on their standard operating guidelines.

      This should cover the employee’s safety. On the other loud noise on a repeated basis and over a long time can cause tinnitus.

      So to monitor the above two with the employee in the center of it , is a challenge and one that can be looked at more carefully.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  8. rookiercflyer

    Thank you for a most interesting post. As a Tinnitus sufferer I found the information both fascinating and informative.

    I currently take Warfarin in very small doses on a daily basis for the control of blood coagulation. I don’t take aspirin, however, so there is no fear of these two causing complcstion.

    I understand why you mentioned these two together in your post on Medications that can cause Tinnitus although I don’t think there is actually a connection with the Tinnitus.

    What do you think?

    • Roopesh

      Hi there.

      Coming from one tinnitus sufferer to another, it means a lot to me that you found this article interesting and informative.Thanks

      Thanks for your question as well.

      I made mentioned of Aspirin as it has a potential of causing tinnitus if sufficiently high doses of the drug is ingested.

      This ‘side effect’ can be reversed however with the discontinuation of takingthe drug.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Please let me know if there is anything else that I can help with.

      Regards Roopesh

  9. Luke

    That is so interesting that the Vagus nerve connects with so many different parts of the body. Just goes to show you that everything is interconnected. I never knew that exposure to loud noises over a long period of time can cause tinnitus. I wonder is musicians who play loud live shows for years ever have problems with tinnitus…

    • Roopesh

      Hi Luke

      Absolutely, everything is connected and you just got no choice but to marvel at the amazing creation of how our system works.So intricate, yet so efficient.

      Well exposure to loud noises is only one of the causes of tinnitus.There are many othercauses such as Meniere’s Disease or head damage or TMJ.

      There have certainly been reports of musicians complaining of tinnitus.The intensity of their tinnitus varies depending on the damage that has been done.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  10. Chris

    This device sounds real interesting because when I was younger I wouldn’t really think about the consequences of being around loud noises all the time in any environment I was located in. Now every time I need to do work with loud machines I always wear ear muffs and that has helped me greatly. The most that will happen now is I will hear faint tinnitus ringing at times when I exercise heavily or when I’m just beginning to fall asleep at night. If a stimulation of the vagus nerve can help treat tinnitus indefinitely then I will most likely have to get my hands on one haha cause that would mean better sound sleeping! Anyways great informative page man!

    • Roopesh

      Hi Chris

      I was the same. I too was partying a lot in my younger years days, without even thinking of the consequences of exposure to loud music.To top it all, I am deaf in the right ear.Well, I guess I can’t changed what has happened and got to deal with life going forward.

      Having said that, I am glad that ear muffs are doing the job in protecting your ears.Its also good to know that your tinnitus is mild and not as borthersome.

      I will keep you updated on the VNS, and let you know when it is available.

      Cheers

      Take Care

      Roopesh

  11. Arnod

    Hi Roopesh

    Thank you for the article ,I didn’t remember in wich site web in 2014 I read that VNS for tinnitus is expected to be available for the public in mi-2015 , and now the result is not published yet . do you know why ?

    • Hi Arnod
      I not recall reading anything about the availability of the VNS.

      But now that you mentioned it, I will do some more investigating.
      Should I come across anything, I will give you a shout.

      Regards
      Roopesh

  12. Maurice

    Wow I did not know of such a device. i could actually use it into practice. Do you have a review or something on this as well and do you know of any more products that work with this kind of stuff? Great writing style. Really love the clarity you write. Very informative as well. I did not know most of this stuff since its so up tot date.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Maurice

      If you don’t mind me asking what line of work are you into? Just a matter our of interest.

      At this point, I do not have a review of this product as it is still in its infancy. At least, this was at a time of writing the article.

      If however, I do hear more info, rest assured, you will be the first to know.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      All of the best to you.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  13. Benedetto

    Very interesting, I always wanted to know what this tinnitus thing Is from a physical aspect, because I sometimes get it randomly out of nowhere. I know my causing has a pacemaker in his chest because of his seizures, but I don’t know if it the same thing. Incredibly detailed post here, if I get to a conversation where we would discuss the topic vagus nerve stimulation and tinnitus than rest assured I am probably the one who knows the most!!!

    • Roopesh

      Hi Benedetto

      Thank you for sharing.

      I think it’s hard to say if the Tinnitus spikes are caused by your pacemaker.

      Glad you gained something from reading here.

      Thank you.

      Roopes

  14. Vince

    Reading about recent research is always fascinating. It seems that as scientists learn more there starts to be more hope for people suffering from various conditions. Realistically, that makes sense. After all, some diseases we can treat now never used to have treatment at all. It would be nice if there really does end up being a cure for tinnitus in the future, even though that is probably a long way off. What you’re talking about sounds like it would relieve some of the symptoms of tinnitus, which is a pretty big deal.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Vince

      Glad you enjoyed this article.

      Yes, a cure would certainly be awesome.At this point, it’s about each of us trying out different things.

      Some may work, and some may not.I like to think of itas trial and error.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  15. Fabrice

    Hello Roopesh,
    How long do you think the intervention will be available? in Europe ? in France ? You have an idea of ​​the amount of the intervention? Thank you for this tone article that gives hope.
    Fabrice

    • Hi Fabrice
      Wish I could give an exact timeframe, but I can’t.I will do some follow-up, if I hear anything, I will give you a shout.

      Yes, you right this does offer one some hope.

      Regards
      Roopesh

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