Sound therapy used to train the brain to ignore tinnitus

Sound therapy

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The findings of a new clinical study suggest that a sound-emitting device worn in the ear during sleep may train the brain to ignore tinnitus, reports Reuters Health.

The research team found that participants with tinnitus who slept with the in-ear devices reported lower levels of tinnitus-related annoyance than those who used bedside noise machines.

A large number of studies have looked at how noise therapy can be used in tinnitus. This is because it has been found that distracting patients from their phantom tinnitus noise can reduce stress and break the vicious circle of increasing attention to the noise generating higher levels of stress. Results have, however, been variable from one study to another.

In this study, 60 patients with tinnitus were randomly assigned to one of three sound therapy devices during sleep: a customized in-ear device that played sounds matched to the ringing sounds of typical tinnitus, an in-ear device that enabled patients to select a pre-set sound, or a bedside noise machine.

After 3 months of treatment, patients in all three groups reported being less bothered by tinnitus. However, participants with the customized in-ear device reported a greater reduction in the perceived loudness of tinnitus than participants in the other two groups. “By listening to this sound while sleeping, the idea is [that] the brain will learn to ignore the tinnitus,” said lead study author Sarah Theodoroff, a researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon (USA).

Source: Reuters