A new study could help millions of people who suffer from ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.
MINEAPOLIS, Minnesota – A new study is the largest and longest-running clinical trial ever conducted in the field of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears, according to the Mayo Clinic. It affects 10-15% of people worldwide.
“It rings in my ears all the time. 24/7,”
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But new research hopes to help those suffering from it. Hubert Lim, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, is the senior author of the study.
“There is an ongoing hypothesis or idea that tinnitus is caused by some form of hearing loss. Maybe not everyone, but a large number of people will have some lack of information in their hearing system and as a result the brain will try to compensate for this. We still don’t fully know why, but in many of these individuals their brains try to compensate, but overcompensate, “Lim explained.
Lim is also the Chief Scientific Officer of Neuromod Devices Limited, an Irish medical device company that sponsored the study.
The device for treating tinnitus, now called Lenire, was developed by Neuromod. It pairs the sound with electrical stimulation of the tongue to treat tinnitus.
“Kind says to the brain, ‘Hey, that’s important.’ Listen to these sounds. Not only does sound enter, but we actually stimulate another modality to make the brain more aware of it. Then we switch it, different sounds switch around different neurons in your brain, and the idea then is that the brain can start to detach or focus away from that noise in your ears, “Lim said.
The survey included 326 participants and was conducted between 2016-2019. For the test, participants were asked to use the device for 60 minutes every day for 12 weeks.
The results showed that about 86% of participants responding to treatment reported an improvement in the severity of tinnitus symptoms, and more than 80% had long-term improvements 12 months after treatment.
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According to Lim, improvements do not necessarily mean the strength of the noise in the noise in the ears, although this can happen.
“So it’s more about how they feel … the stress, the reaction, the heaviness, the severity of the tinnitus symptoms,” Lim said.
77.8% of participants said they would recommend the device to other people with tinnitus.
“We don’t eliminate or treat tinnitus … think about it as we moisturize it, reduce it, and hopefully that’s enough to reduce the reaction to it so people can get on with their daily lives,” Lim said .
Saucedo has been living with tinnitus for five years and is in a clinical trial involving cognitive-behavioral therapy. His advice for those who experience tinnitus is to try to continue to live normally, except for visits to places that are very loud, such as concerts.
For those who want to watch out for noise levels, Saucedo recommends using an app on your phone that measures decibels in your environment.
But although Sausedo has learned ways to control his tinnitus, he said clinical trials like this give him hope.
“We who have severe tinnitus experience it 24/7. So I know that even if we had a few hours of relief, that would be very valuable,” Sausedo said.
The device is available in Europe, and Neuromod is working to obtain FDA approval in the United States. Lim, meanwhile, said they were completing another clinical trial and continuing their research.