New Research Highlights Advances in Treatment for Tinnitus Sufferers

The American Journal of Audiology (AJA) recently published research demonstrating that a new masking treatment — known as S-tone treatment — works better for tinnitus sufferers than existing masking treatments do.

In standard medical procedure, the ringing in the ears caused by tinnitus can only be covered by machines that produced broadband sound, better known as white noise. The S-tone approach, however, targets an exact pitch of the tinnitus in the sufferer, and then produces just the right tone to counteract that pitch.

The study showed that more than half of the tinnitus sufferers in the study found the S-tones to be more effective at reducing the volume of their tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a condition that can significantly affect a sufferer’s health and quality of life. For some, the ringing in the ears is so loud that it impedes sleep and creates difficulty concentrating, which can lead to a host of physical, psychological, economic and social problems.

The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that 60 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home with some form of hearing loss or tinnitus.

SoundCure, a Silicon Valley startup, is dedicated to creating a state-of-the-art S-tone device for tinnitus sufferers. Serenade, its current device, can be programmed by audiologists to the exact frequency and sound type needed by the patient. It can also be programmed for different times of day.

Jeff Carroll, Ph.D., who works for SoundCure, told ABC News that the best part about S-tone therapy is that it can work at much lower volumes than traditional white noise therapy. Because more than three quarters of participants in the AJA study indicated that the S-tones worked at least as well as white noise, a majority of tinnitus sufferers may prefer S-tone therapy simply because it is quieter.

Both the AJA study and the Serenade device have been endorsed by the American Tinnitus Association.

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