Tongue stimulation as a means of treating tinnitus


A new device known as “the Mutebutton” has been evaluated in a trial carried out at the National University of Ireland and results suggest it can reduce tinnitus loudness by about 40% on average.

The Mutebutton is used for 30 minutes a day and is designed to help the brain turn down the volume of the phantom noise characteristic of tinnitus. The system consists of headphones and a lollipop-like device that sits on the tongue and stimulates it in time with a relaxing mixture of music and nature sounds played through the earphones.

The non-surgical neuromodulation medical device is different from conventional treatment options such as sound maskers, antidepressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly used with varying success in tinnitus. It aims to re-train the brain via the nerves in the tongue to reduce the loudness of tinnitus.

Each device is configured to the individual patient based on hearing tests. The principle behind the treatment is simple: the stimulator generates a mild current that stimulates tongue nerves in sync with the sound played through the earphones. Gradually, the brain is trained to tune down the phantom tinnitus sounds not in sync with the real sounds from the headphones, which are associated with actual stimulation felt on the tongue.

The clinical trial included 60 people who had tinnitus for more than six months. Patients used the device for ten weeks in their own home or in another relaxing environment. Results found a mean minimum masking level reduction among patients of 8.6 dB, corresponding to tinnitus volume reduction of 42% on average.

Source: Mail Online