Tinnitus is a common and frequently incapacitating disorder characterised by a continuous buzzing or ringing sound. According to experts, they have created an app that can lessen its effects.
Fewer people have severe tinnitus, which is defined as the perception of noises that are not caused by external stimuli. In the UK, tinnitus is estimated to afflict 7.6 million people.
Although there isn’t a cure for the illness, there are several management strategies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). By doing this, people’s emotional attachment to the sound is lessened, which enables the brain to become deaf to it. However CBT can be costly and challenging for people to access.
New App Can Reduce Debilitating Impact of Tinnitus
An app called MindEar was developed by researchers to deliver CBT via a chatbot in addition to conventional methods like sound treatment.
The first author of the study from the University of Auckland, Dr. Fabrice Bardy, who has tinnitus, stated, “What we want to do is empower people to regain control.”
Bardy et al. write in the journal Frontiers in Audiology and Otology that out of the 28 participants in the trial, 14 were instructed to utilise the virtual coach on the app for ten minutes a day for eight weeks. The instructions for the remaining 14 participants were the same, and they included four 30-minute video sessions with a professional psychologist.
Online surveys were filled out by the participants both before and after the eight-week trial period. The findings indicate that nine participants who additionally received video calls, in addition to the six who received the app alone, demonstrated a similar degree of clinically meaningful reduction in tinnitus-related discomfort. Nine people in both groups reported such gains after an additional eight weeks.
Brady said that it was possible that some persons had tinnitus in addition to worry, stress, or sleep issues, in which case more assistance was required. The researchers planned to investigate whether some individuals benefited more than others from the additional support of a clinical psychologist.
A broader clinical trial of the app with the University College London (UCL) hospital is about to begin, according to the team. According to trial participant Dr. Lucy Handscomb of the UCL Ear Institute, patients frequently experienced a rise in anxiety while waiting for therapy, and in-person help for tinnitus was not readily available.
“My hope is that, by giving people access to this very carefully designed intervention early on in their journey with tinnitus, they will be prevented from ever entering some of the negative thought cycles that so often occur and be able to live well with their tinnitus from the start,” she said. “I don’t see MindEar as a replacement for tinnitus therapy in person but I think it could be a very valuable complement to it.”
The application is not unique in its kind. One of these is the Oto tinnitus app, which is being studied in a significant clinical trial in the United Kingdom.
Participating in that research is Matthew Smith, a consultant ENT surgeon at Cambridge University hospitals NHS foundation trust. He believes apps could be a useful tool in treating tinnitus, especially by making treatment more accessible to a larger number of patients. Additionally, he cautioned that CBT was just one part of the treatment for tinnitus.
He stated, “For some people, the provision of hearing aids is a crucial component of tinnitus treatment, and this poses a challenge for remote treatment.” “An app by itself is not a one-stop shop for everyone’s tinnitus, but it can offer patients with the condition helpful therapy.”