In France, one in four people suffers from tinnitus and many struggle to find a solution to relieve their discomfort. Good news: American scientists have just developed an electrical stimulation device to relieve the somatic form of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is hell for nearly 15% of adults worldwide. In France, one in four adults suffer from this more or less severe hearing discomfort, and many people suffer from it chronically without finding a way to relieve their tinnitus. The good news may come from scientists at the University of Michigan (USA), who conducted research into how the brain processes bi-sensory information and how this could be harnessed to treat tinnitus.
A treatment for somatic tinnitus
Their research focused more specifically on the somatic form of tinnitus, which is the most common form, and which is related to physical movement (like clenching the jaws) or touch. According to American researchers, nearly 70% of people with tinnitus have this form of hearing loss. 99 patients were included in their study, all suffering from bothersome somatic tinnitus, as well as normal to moderate hearing loss.
Participants were provided with a wearable device programmed to present each participant’s personal tinnitus spectrum, combined with electrical stimulation to form a bi-sensory stimulus. The first group first received a bi-sensory, or active, treatment, while the second received a sound treatment alone (placebo).
During the first 6 weeks, participants were asked to use their devices for 30 minutes a day, before taking a 6-week break, and starting the treatment again for 6 weeks. Result: the researchers have found that people who received the bi-sensory treatment benefited from a significant reduction in the intensity of tinnitus and had a better quality of life. Effects that have not been observed in people who have only received sound stimulation.
“This study paves the way for the use of personalized bi-sensory stimulation as an effective treatment for tinnitus, giving hope to millions of people,” the scientists concluded.
How do we relieve tinnitus today?
Hearing aids: if a loss of hearing is noted, the audioprosthetist can suggest a device in order to hear better. The prostheses also have the advantage of bringing relief with regard to the perception of tinnitus because the external sounds, amplified by the device, add up and merge with the tinnitus which is then covered by the sound universe. ambient.
Noise generators: these are sound diffusers (sounds of water, wind, birds, etc.) that create relaxing sound environments. Apart from their soothing effect, these devices fill the ear with restful sounds that envelop the tinnitus. It may be interesting to install one near the bed, to better sleep.
Sophrology:this gentle method allows put extraneous noises at a distance, reduce stress and anxiety related to noises but also modify the perception of pain related to tinnitus.
Surgery : IIt is very rare to have recourse to surgery to treat tinnitus, except in certain specific cases: a disease of the ossicles of the middle ear (in this case the stirrup is replaced by a prosthesis) or a neuroma of the acoustic (a benign non-cancerous tumor that is removed when it is too big).
Source :Reversing Synchronized Brain Circuits Using Targeted Auditory-Somatosensory Stimulation to Treat Phantom PerceptsJama Network, June 2023