Living with tinnitus can be a challenge, but there’s reason for optimism. Innovative research efforts worldwide have been making headway in understanding and potentially treating this complex condition. Currently, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) stands as the gold standard in tinnitus care, with significant success rates in helping people live normal lives. Here at Treble Health, we want to share some of these fascinating developments, including TRT and beyond, painting a brighter picture for those affected by tinnitus.
Before we delve into the world of emerging treatments, it’s important to highlight the current most effective treatment available for tinnitus – Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Developed in the late 20th century, TRT combines sound therapy with therapeutic counseling to help individuals live with the symptoms of tinnitus. It’s a progressive therapy with a positive impact on a significant proportion of those who have undergone it. TRT has been found to be effective in mitigating the impact of tinnitus on quality of life in as many as 80% of patients, allowing them to lead normal lives.
As we continue to examine new potential treatments, we hold them up to the standard set by TRT, seeking to find new therapies that can match or exceed its effectiveness.
Now, let’s look at some of the promising developments from recent tinnitus research in 2022 and 2023.
Dr. Susan Shore and her research team at the University of Michigan have developed a device that uses bimodal stimulation to target tinnitus symptoms. This device, which may be submitted for FDA consideration under the company name Auricle, combines auditory and somatosensory stimuli delivered through headphones and electrodes.
The device has shown promising results in research studies involving both humans and guinea pigs. Notably, patients reported reduced tinnitus loudness and improved quality of life without any negative effects. It may not work for all types of tinnitus, but it shows hope for many.
Meanwhile, Neuromod, an Irish company, has developed Lenire, a device similar to the Michigan device. Lenire stimulates nerves in the ear and the tongue. Users have reported improvements in their tinnitus symptoms, with many stating they would recommend the device to others suffering from tinnitus.
However, both of these devices represent treatments rather than cures, they will likely be used in combination with other treatments for tinnitus, and initial results are no better than TRT.
Frequency Therapeutics, an offshoot of MIT, is exploring the realm of regenerating tiny hair cells within the ear, a crucial component of our auditory system. As hearing loss and tinnitus are intimately connected, this approach was exciting in terms of providing a promising path for potential tinnitus treatment, but the trial results have been poor.
OTO-313, an ear injection treatment initially developed by Otonomy, was found to be ineffective. The company is now focusing on their OTO-413 injection studies, which target hearing loss treatment.
In a fascinating development, a study conducted in June 2022 utilized non-invasive electrical stimulation of the ear to improve tinnitus symptoms. An encouraging 79% improvement rate was observed without any adverse side effects.
In a separate study, researchers used extracochlear electrical stimulation to alleviate tinnitus symptoms in guinea pigs without hearing impairment. Results demonstrated that the EES significantly reduced tinnitus measurements in guinea pigs, altering the malfunctioning auditory-somatosensory system without impacting hearing or the delicate hair cells in the inner ear.
In conclusion, the search for a tinnitus cure is dynamic and multifaceted. While we’re yet to discover an all-encompassing cure for tinnitus, these various developments are indeed promising. Here at Treble Health, we’re committed to staying at the forefront of these research advancements to provide our patients with the most up-to-date and effective treatments available.
Let’s circle back to Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), the current gold standard in tinnitus treatment. TRT is a comprehensive, individualized program designed to retrain the brain’s auditory pathways to interpret tinnitus sounds as insignificant, thereby minimizing the negative emotional response and impact on daily life.
The therapy involves a combination of directive counseling and sound therapy. The counseling aims to demystify tinnitus, reduce fear, and break down negative associations. Simultaneously, sound therapy is used to enrich the background sound environment, making tinnitus less perceptible.
TRT has shown remarkable success. Studies report that up to 80% of individuals undergoing TRT experience meaningful relief from their symptoms, leading to significant improvements in their quality of life. The effectiveness of TRT is highly dependent on the individual’s commitment to the treatment and can typically take 12 to 24 months to achieve the maximum benefit.
Despite the promising developments in the field of tinnitus research, TRT continues to hold its place as the most reliable, effective treatment for tinnitus. Here at Treble Health, we are committed to delivering TRT along with exploring the emerging treatments to ensure our patients receive the most comprehensive care. We firmly believe that a multi-pronged approach, combining tried-and-true methods like TRT with cutting-edge research, will pave the way forward in tinnitus care.