The CDC estimates that around 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Whether your tinnitus is characterized by humming, ringing, static or some other sound, this condition makes it hard to function in daily life.
Communication is difficult. Relaxing becomes a battle to ignore the sound. It can induce stress and may contribute to anxiety and depression. In some cases, the condition may even be painful.
But researchers think they may have discovered a new way to relieve many of this burdensome ailment.
Let’s explore what they’ve found.
New Technology May Help Alleviate Tinnitus
Scientists are researching a sound-emitting device that can be worn while you sleep. This device may be able to train the brain to ignore tinnitus sounds. Much like you can sometimes “tune out” a lawnmower next door or traffic in the neighborhood to the point that you don’t hear it anymore, this device helps you “tune out” your tinnitus.
While the tinnitus didn’t go entirely away, study participants reported finding their tinnitus less bothersome after using the device.
Researchers divided 60 participants into 3 groups. The first group slept with a sound machine set by the scientists to a single sound. The second group received a sound machine that allowed them to adjust the sounds and settings. The third group received the in-ear device that is set to mimic precisely the tinnitus sound that the participant is hearing.
Researchers believe that by inundating brain with the same sound from an external source, the brain learned to ignore the noise.
Those who used the device report that their tinnitus is much quieter and less annoying. Tinnitus-associated stress was also reduced.
The Drawbacks in the Study
There are some drawbacks in the study. They include the fact that they did not have a control group. This group would have been people who received no intervention and represented tinnitus symptoms in people who don’t participate in treatment.
Additionally, they can only measure tinnitus loudness subjectively. It’s very rare to have a form of tinnitus that can be measured on any devices. Therefore, results must be gathered by participants that report the level of reduction they experience.
Despite its faults, this study gives us hope that there may soon be better treatment options for tinnitus.
In order to get FDA approval to treat tinnitus, this device will need to undergo additional and more strenuous testing to confirm its efficacy. The FDA’s goal in doing this is to protect consumers from false claims related to medical treatments.
Fortunately, we can say, these early results are very promising. We look forward to seeing how this technology develops.
The Cause of Your Tinnitus Should Be Addressed First
This device could provide relief to people who have been unable to get rid of these tinnitus symptoms. But it’s important to realize that it only masks the symptom. There may be an underlying cause of your tinnitus that needs to be addressed by a professional.
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom that may have many causes:
- Exposure to loud noises
- Hearing loss
- Brain tumor or other tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- Damage to the ear canal
- Earwax buildup
- Ear infection
- Poor circulation
- Thyroid issues
In some of these cases, your tinnitus may be warning you and your doctor of a more serious health challenge that you need to address. Don’t ignore it.
You should see your audiologist to determine the potential cause of your tinnitus. If the cause can be corrected, the tinnitus may go away. If it can’t, your audiologist can discuss options with you similar to this one. Some solutions may reduce or eliminate your tinnitus.