Known as an invisible illness, tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S., affecting nearly 15% of the population. Hearing a ringing in the ear can be sporadic or contiguous, range in severity and be in one or both ears. Regardless if your tinnitus is a passing annoyance or a debilitating condition affecting your quality of life, you want relief. Researchers from the U.K. think they may have found a solution in an unlikely source – a smartphone application.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Most cases of tinnitus, a symptom of an underlying disorder rather than a condition itself, are caused by damage to the inner ear. Within the inner ear are delicate hair cells responsible for converting soundwaves into to electrical impulses, which are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. When damaged, the hairs will “leak,” sending signals to the brain about sounds that are not really there.
Chronic health conditions, ear problems, injuries and disorders that affect the auditory nerve or cortex can all lead to tinnitus.
In addition to hearing a ringing in the ear, side effects of tinnitus include:
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
How is Tinnitus Treated?
Tinnitus treatment involves learning how to manage the ringing rather than correcting the issue, as tinnitus does not have a cure. This can be done with:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
A New Approach to Tinnitus Treatment
While working for the United Kingdom National Health Service, Dr. Edmund Farrar and Dr. George Leidig wanted to find a better solution for their patients suffering with tinnitus. Together with their team of ear, nose and throat doctors, audiologists and hearing experts, they utilized the latest available technology to produce a solution with a focus on usability.
The Oto smartphone application is built on the treatment principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and features a user-friendly interface. Aimed at changing your thinking behaviors and shifting your thoughts and feelings connected to them, the app uses CBT and machine learning to offer more complex ideas than traditional therapy.
While still in alpha, Oto is available for download in the Google Play store.
This is just one of the many solutions utilizing technology to try to help those suffering from tinnitus. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with an expert, contact Wilmington Audiology today.