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Tinnitus has long been recognized as a pervasive auditory condition that affects a wide range of patients. Though medical professionals are able to treat many of its symptoms through therapy and hearing aids with varying levels of success, there has been no medical protocol to address the underlying cause of the disorder. However, a recent medical study published for JAMA Otolaryngology has found a potential treatment to address not only the experience of tinnitus, but the underlying cause of the condition.

Using a process known as “Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” (or, rTMS) the authors of the study were able to effectively reduce the symptoms experienced by a significant amount (56%) of the study group when compared to a placebo. The Tinnitus Functional Index—a scale designed to address sleep disturbance, cognitive interference and relaxation issues, among other factors—was used as the metric by which the data was studied, which indicated that rTMS was especially effective in cases of severe tinnitus.

Though treatments involving the electronic manipulation of the cranium may give pause to some, out of the study’s 64 participants, none withdrew because of adverse effects of rTMS. Over the course of the ten-day treatment, a statistically significant percentage of participants responded positively to the treatment; a trend which was sustained throughout the follow up period of the study.

The study seems to contradict the 2014 American Academy of Otolaryngology’s clinical practice guidelines, which indicate that the use of rTMS is not an effective treatment of tinnitus. However, the authors of the study acknowledge that rTMS is not a replacement for the currently accepted treatments for tinnitus. Instead, the authors indicate that the treatment needs a larger base of study to refine the use of rTMS before the procedure can be implemented clinically.

Citations:

Theodoroff, S., et al (2015, August). Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Chronic Tinnitus. Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://archotol.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2388777&resultClick=3

Henry, J., et al (2014, November). Audiology Today November-December 2014 Page 42. Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://online.qmags.com/AT1114?pg=42&mode=2#pg42&mode2

Murphy, J. (2015, July 16). Electromagnetic pulse treatment lessens tinnitus. Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://www.mdlinx.com/otolaryngology/article/71

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