Significant breakthrough in search for tinnitus cure?

Photo credit: Ketut Subiyanto

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report from SciTechDaily has the same title as my title for this blog post, but without the question mark I added. Pardon my skepticism, but I’ll wait until the study described is repeated by other researchers on a larger population with a double-blinded study design.

The report is about a study done in Australia using a smartphone-based app to offer sound therapy to treat, not cure, tinnitus. The app was compared to a white noise therapy.

Tinnitus, ringing in the ears, is thought to be some type of “rewiring” of brain circuits involved with sound perception, causing the perception of sound when there is no external sound source. Tinnitus is most often perceived as a ringing in the ears, but it can also be a buzzing or clicking sound. It can be very annoying for some people, less so for others. Like many with tinnitus, I developed mine after a one-time exposure to noise. Also like too many people with tinnitus, I had no idea that a one-time exposure to loud noise would lead to tinnitus for the rest of my life.

There are many treatments for tinnitus, most involving some sort of sound therapy, but none approved by the FDA. That means that none has been demonstrated to the FDA’s high evidentiary standard to be safe and effective.

While tinnitus has many causes–ear infections and head trauma among them–the most common cause of tinnitus is noise exposure.

And that means prevention of tinnitus is very easy: avoid exposure to loud sounds and you most likely won’t ever develop tinnitus.

Remember: if it sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your auditory health is at risk.

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