Researchers have developed a personalised tinnitus treatment and hope encouraging trial results will lead to it being offered on the NHS.
The therapy, which involves listening to sounds through headphones, is designed to “reset” auditory nerve cells in the brain to stop them misfiring.
They claim the treatment, known as Acoustic Co-ordinated Reset (CR) Neuromodulation, reduced tinnitus symptoms in three-quarters of trial patients.
Tinnitus affects about 10% of the UK population. An estimated 600,000 people suffer the problem to a disabling degree. The condition is incurable and most treatments rely on helping patients cope with and ignore the symptoms.
The new treatment, Acoustic CR Neuromodulation, was developed from therapies for neurological diseases which involve stimulating neurons with probes sunk deep into the brain. However, unlike invasive Deep Brain Stimulation, it simply patients to wear a set of special headphones for a few hours a day.
The £4,500 course is currently only available to private patients at the Tinnitus Clinic in London. But researchers hope the trial results will pave the way for NHS approval by NICE.
Results from the trial, led by Professor Peter Tass at the Julich Research Centre in Germany, will be presented at a British Medical Association conference on Tuesday.