Retrain Your Brain to Get Rid of Tinnitus
Ring in the New Technology for Tinnitus
A new FDA-approved method for treating tinnitus capitalizes on neuroplasticity and reconditioning. Tinnitus, or “ringing in the ears,” affects approximately 50 million Americans. It is especially common in people who have been exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time: musicians, factory workers, and military veterans. In fact, tinnitus is the leading service-related disability among U.S. veterans, according to the American Tinnitus Association.(1)
What the Research Exhibits
Recent research from the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA in Portland, Oregon(2) supports a new neuro-auditory retraining method in the treatment of tinnitus. The Levo System, by Otoharmonics, uses an integrated tablet platform and earbuds to retrain the brain during sleep to actually ignore the specific tonation and pattern of the ringing. During sleep, the brain is most responsive to sensory input, and it grows accustomed to the sound after a few months, overriding the interpretation that the sound is something to be consciously aware of during waking life.
Shifting from Traditional Tinnitus Methods
This is a unique shift from traditional methods of managing tinnitus which had concentrated on “masking” the noise through wearable devices during the day, such as hearing aids which produce a “white noise” to distract from the tinnitus.
Tinnitus creates many problems in people’s lives, including insomnia, trouble concentrating, cognitive impairment, and headaches, making it difficult in social situations and relationships. In the study, it was shown that participants using the retraining method had greater decreases in overall tinnitus as well as better cognitive outcomes, and enjoyment of social activities and relationships with family and friends.
Personalized Treatment Offered
This method of treatment is fully personalized, able to calibrate to the individual sound a person is actually hearing – this also means that other people, can also hear what sound they are living with. It’s used during sleep, so it doesn’t interfere with activities of daily living. It can track the activity, use and response, and integrates Functional Tinnitus Index via smart technology. And, it’s easy to use.
- Demographics. American Tinnitus Association website. https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/ demographics. Updated 2016. Accessed February 4, 2017.
- Henry JA, Stewart BJ, Carlson K.Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare Two Methods of Tinnitus Intervention to Two Control Conditions. Ear Hear. 2016;37(6):346-359.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.