A new clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of a tinnitus treatment will soon be underway. If successful, the new tinnitus treatment could help alleviate millions of adults living in the United Kingdom from the debilitating hearing disorder tinnitus. Tinnitus is a secondary symptom characterised by the perception of a ringing sound in the ear, even though this perception does not correspond with any external sounds and is one of the most common forms of hearing impairment in around the globe.
The tinnitus treatment comes in the form of a pocket-sized device that makes use of specific sound sequences to stimulate faculty wiring in the brain. What the CR® neuromodulation device effectively does it emit sounds that disrupt the patterns of neurons transmitted in the brain. A patient suffering with tinnitus has neurons in the brain that are transmitted simultaneously as oppossed to randomly, which leads to the constant buzzing or ringing symptom.
The clinical trial is bringing together collaborating expertise from researchers at Nottingham University and the Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing. Scientists and researchers will examine two groups of patients that have had tinnitus for over three months. One group will be given with the device to wear whilst the second control group will be fitted with an inactuve device that will act as a placebo. The effect of the new tinnitus treatments will then be closely monitored by using a series of hearing tests, as well as questionnaires and brain activity recordings. Because tinnitus is usually a subjective condition, it is difficult to measure the new treatment using objective tests only. Thus a wide range of monitoring tests will be used.
The success of the clinical trial for the tinnitus treatment will bring hope to over five million patients in the UK alone, which is notoriously difficult to treat due to huge variations in symptoms and severity between patients. Sufferers go through a range of tinnitus treatments to alleviate the condition, including hearing aids, alternative treatments such as acupuncture and sound and listening therapies. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself but is a secondary symptom that is commonly caused by a variety of factors. These include physical ear damage, hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to loud noises, excessive use of in-ear headphones, age-related hearing loss, ear infections, foreign objects lodged in the ear canal, wax build up and hair cell death. It’s also a common symptom of benzodiazepine. An exploratory study of the tinnitus treatment in Germany has already yielded positive results.