Researchers might have found a new treatment for tinnitus. They have demonstrated that delivering electromagnetic pulses improve the severity of the symptom. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, treatment of tinnitus may be possible through delivery of electromagnetic pulses.
For those who don’t know: Tinnitus is a perception of ringing or any other kind of noise in the affected individual’s years without any source. This problem affects around one in every five people and is usually a symptom of ear injuries and age-related hearing loss.
During the said study, researchers assessed the use of rTMS or repetitive transcranial magmatic simulation, which was delivered to the patient’s scalp by means of a coil. The study authors wrote that they didn’t believe that rTMS should get treated as an alternative to other effective treatments for tinnitus that are currently in use.
At this moment, the treatments available for tinnitus include: medications for alleviating the severity of the symptom, noise suppression, and treating the underlying health condition responsible for causing the symptom.
Among individuals who develop chronic tinnitus, 20% describe their problem as “clinically significant”, which means according to them, the problem affects their quality of life negatively. These disruptive features of the symptom have forced several scientists to carry out studies on potential new treatment options for tinnitus.
Some of the studies conducted previously indicated that people suffering from tinnitus experience increased activity within their brain’s auditory cortex region compared to those not having any such symptom. It’s a known fact that rTMS, when used in low frequency, can successfully reduce brain activity in targeted areas. As a result, experts have recommended the use of rTMS for treating tinnitus.
For testing this hypothesis, Robert Folmer of the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland and Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and his colleagues carried out a study on 70 individuals with tinnitus. All the patients were randomly treated with placebo or active rTMS.
The patients received the treatment for ten consecutive working days. They underwent follow-up assessments after one, two, four, 13 and 26 weeks of the final session of the rTMS treatment. The severity of tinnitus in the patients was measured using TFI or Tinnitus Functional Index.
The researchers found that individuals who received active rTMS have experienced a reduction of 31% on the 26th week following the treatment. The ones receiving placebo rTMS, on the other hand, experienced a reduction of just 7%.