New Tinnitus Treatment Instrument Available for Public Use in Ireland

Tinnitus (a persistant ringing in the ears) affects about 10-15% of the population in a mild way, with about 1% of the population severely affected. In the worst cases, it can be very debilitating causing many psychological side-effects. Until recently, very little has be found to reduce, much less cure, this condition.

Neuromod Devices, and Irish company, have developed a device they call Mutebutton that in clinical trials has produced a 42% reduction in the patients perceived loudness of tinnitus.

Not all tinnitus is the same, but its most common form, subjective otic tinnitus, is thought to be caused by high frequency hearing loss. Although the exact pathology that results in tinnitus is not known for sure, it is generally believed that with high frequency hearing loss there may be (from Wiki tinnitus page) "a homeostatic response of central dorsal cochlear nucleus auditory neurons that makes them hyperactive in compensation to auditory input loss." In other words, some of the auditory neurons become over-active in the absence of signal due to hearing loss.

The Mutebutton (seen above) is a device that includes a headphone, a tonguetip electro-stimulator, and a hand-held controller. Sound is played through the headphones and the same sound is "played" through the tonguetip as a mild electrical stimulation. Through a process generally categorized as Neuromodulation, the combined auditory and lingual nerve stimulation promotes the needed neuroplasticity for the brain to figure out it's hearing as much as it can hear, and will begin to reduce the overactivity of the hyperactive auditory neurons reducing the intensity of the tinnitus heard. Or something like that...this is obviously a really complicated subject.

The product is currently available only in Ireland, but will soon be rolling out to other countries. The product must be sold through audiologists as it requires adjustment for each individual user, so it will take time for audiologists to become trained in the device and world-wide distribution will be slow to apear.

More info can be had at the Mutebutton website and in this Daily Mail article.

COMMENTS
GNagus's picture

I remember reading some years ago that ANC headphones can temporarily help with tinnitus. Is there anything to it?

castleofargh's picture

it's a cool idea to stimulate 2 senses the same way and wait for the brain to understand they're the same thing. we know that kind of stuff can work for people who lost a limb and fake viewing them with mirrors or artificial limbs, to try and reduce some phantom pains.
it's very obvious that it doesn't concern all causes of tinnitus but specifically for what you talk about, it does look like it could have a positive effect.

strangely enough(or not) my tinnitus gets loud and noticeable when I'm super tired, or super stressed, don't do any sport and drink booze. so I came to take it as my personal coach telling me each time I'm entering the danger zone. but of course I'm lucky to have something very soft and quiet even in those moments.

Seth195208's picture

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peterinvan@yahoo.com's picture

Thanks for this type of info Tyll.

I believe my Tinnitus (a ringing at about 7500 Hz) was caused by careless testing of some tweeters during a DIY speaker project over 10 years ago. Sometimes it is a distraction when listening to headphones or speakers, and sometimes I can ignore it. The problem is that I usually turn up the volume to overcome the Tinnitus ringing... I know this is a slippery slope.

Keep those great articles coming!

Peter

cspirou's picture

This is a good development that I hope is affordable. It seems like tinnitus is a phantom sound that comes from brain cells no longer receiving signals from the damaged auditory cilia. There is some research I've read where they have been able to treat this by stimulating the vagus nerve. The trials I read about involve invasive surgery to directly stimulate the vagus nerve along with a sound played through headphones. This solution is much better since it stimulates the tongue without surgery.

For my tinnitus I found a couple solutions for relief. When I was trying to identify the frequency of tinnitus by sweeping a frequency band of tones, I noticed that the tinnitus would disappear as I would get close to the sound and I would get relief for a bit before it would slowly come back. Another way was after I read the paper on stimulating the vagus nerve. The nerve runs behind the ear and even has a points on the outer ear. After massaging those points for a bit of time I would also get relief before it would come back again.

More research on mice has shown that they were able to stimulate regrowth of cilia by directly applying a drug used for Alzheimer to damaged cilia. I have no doubt that this will be perfected in my lifetime and that I will be able to restore my hearing. So I just learned to live with the fact that I have tinnitus and that one day I will be able to do something about it. In the meantime I will read more about this Mutebutton product.

Seth195208's picture

I use a tens unit with the electrodes attached to my ear lobes. Used 20 minutes a day, it definitely quiets my tinnitus.

bogdanb's picture

omg! hope it will become less expensive now is 2400E!!!!
I am living in Ireland now and you got me exited that I might be a solution to loose that iiiiIIIIiiiiii that sometimes bothers me...I have this issue ant I have attributed it to my alcohol usage and lived with it (not a heavy drinker, but a regular one...).

I will keep listening to music....for now, and probably for the next 2400E, until the R&D will be covered by the "early adopters" :)

bogdanb's picture

it cost as much as a 2 months rent for one bedroom apartment. Not that expensive... LOL

Moted's picture

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Lawk's picture

I am not here to ruin the party since there really is something to it with the trigeminal and vagus nerve in regards to tinnitus (carbamazepine, gabapentin) Epilepsy-trigeminal neuralgia/Neuropathic pain med helps some tinnitus patients.

HOWEVER the sample size of the study, 54 pateints, is tiny, the results not published on clinicaltrials.gov

I am not saying this will not work, but it will not be for everyone.

Novel tinnitus treatments are like novel cancer treatments, there are big news every month and 20 years down the road you are still battling the same thing.

at any rate worst case is you own a pair of the most expensive AKG K545's ever :D

Jim Tavegia's picture

Mine is pretty bad as it sounds like full summertime at night while camping and all the crickets chirping. Mine is from my time in the military and on weapons' firing ranges. It may not be repairable by any standard.

nouny's picture

When I red it I found my self very happy because this will help me in my life.
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