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J Clin Neurol. 2009 Mar;5(1):11-9. doi: 10.3988/jcn.2009.5.1.11. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

Tinnitus: characteristics, causes, mechanisms, and treatments.

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Do Neurology Clinic, Willis Medical Network, Daegu, Korea.


Tinnitus-the perception of sound in the absence of an actual external sound-represents a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a single disease. Several theories have been proposed to explain the mechanisms underlying tinnitus. Tinnitus generators are theoretically located in the auditory pathway, and such generators and various mechanisms occurring in the peripheral auditory system have been explained in terms of spontaneous otoacoustic emissions, edge theory, and discordant theory. Those present in the central auditory system have been explained in terms of the dorsal cochlear nucleus, the auditory plasticity theory, the crosstalk theory, the somatosensory system, and the limbic and autonomic nervous systems. Treatments for tinnitus include pharmacotherapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy, sound therapy, music therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, massage and stretching, and electrical suppression. This paper reviews the characteristics, causes, mechanisms, and treatments of tinnitus.


discordant theory; tinnitus; tinnitus retraining therapy

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