S-Tones more effective than broadband noise in tinnitus


© Jason Rogers

The results of a randomized, multicenter clinical study have shown that S-Tones as a masker are effective at low volumes and are more effective than broadband noise in the reduction of tinnitus.

The American Tinnitus Association estimates that about 50 million people in the USA have some degree of tinnitus. Of these, about 16 million find their condition severe enough to seek medical attention. Also, about 2 million tinnitus sufferers are so seriously affected that they cannot function on a normal day-to-day basis. Traditional sound therapies aim to offer relief by masking tinnitus with an alternative background sound, such as broadband noise.

The study was conducted by tinnitus researchers at three audiology centers, led by Dr. Richard Tyler, University of Iowa, and commissioned by SoundCure, a medical device company. It included 56 tinnitus patients who were asked to listen to S-Tones at a carrier frequency matched to the tinnitus pitch, and to broadband noise. The participants were also asked to rate the loudness of their tinnitus before, during, and after a 120-s duration masker.

The trial found that there was no significant effect from any masker in 21 of 56 subjects (37.5%). The remaining 35 participants reported a reduction in tinnitus, with 19 of 35 (54.3%) showing a greater reduction for the S-Tones, 7 of 35 (20%) showing a greater reduction with broadband noise, and 9 of 35 (25.7%) reporting similar performance between the 2 stimuli. The S-Tones reduced the tinnitus loudness by 1.9 times the amount that noise did, at about 28% on average. In contrast, broadband noise reduced tinnitus loudness by about 15%. The authors conclude that S-Tones “are effective in more patients than broadband noise maskers at reducing tinnitus loudness, and therefore have the potential to be beneficial to a large segment of the tinnitus population.”

Source: Tyler R, et al. Amplitude modulated s-tones can be superior to noise for tinnitus reduction. American Journal of Audiology. 2014 Sep 1;23(3):303-8.; pharmiweb.com