Acoustic Tinnitus Manipulations
Tinnitus is the sensation of ringing or other sounds in one or both ears, which does not have an outside source. At present there is no established treatment to silence or suppress this sound. Researchers at Newcastle University, led by Dr William Sedley, have developed a specific type of sounds intended to reduce the loudness of tinnitus when listened to regularly over a period of time. This is the first study to test the effect that these sounds have on tinnitus.
To be eligible for the study, you need to confirm that you:
- Are at least 18 years of age;
- Are able to make a voluntary and informed choice about whether to take part;
- Experience tinnitus (persistent sound in one or both ears) for the majority of the time, provided that the level of background sound is not sufficiently loud to mask it. It is not important, for these purposes, whether you notice the tinnitus most of the time, provided it is there if you listen out for it;
- Do not have hearing loss that is in the ‘severe’ or ‘profound’ range at the higher frequencies. Where there are such high degrees of hearing loss, it is unlikely the sounds used in the study will have any effect on the tinnitus. If you do have this level of hearing loss, but use a hearing aid or cochlear implant to correct this, then you can still take part, though we cannot guarantee that the sounds will have the same effect when used with such a device;
- Do not have tinnitus that is ‘pulsatile’, meaning that it gets significantly louder and quieter in time with your pulse. This type of tinnitus usually is described as a low-pitched ‘whooshing’ sound.
What will I be asked to do?
Volunteers will be asked to listen to two different types of sounds, one for each half of the study: one sound (the ‘active’ sound) is designed to try and suppress tinnitus, while the other sound is similar but is a ‘sham’ sound that is not intended to have any effect on tinnitus. The order of these is random, and volunteers will not know which type they are listening to.
The study is run entirely online, and takes a total of 18 weeks. Participation is voluntary at every stage, and volunteers can withdraw at any time, however their data can only be included in the study if they complete the whole study period. The study consists of the following:
- Signing a consent form;
- Providing information such as age, sex, details about tinnitus, and questionnaires about tinnitus and hyperacusis (sound sensitivity);
- Listening to a range of sounds in order to estimate hearing, type and frequency of tinnitus;
- A 6 week period of listening to one type of sound (active or sham) daily (no set amount of time: listening is done for as long as the volunteer chooses), which can be done while performing other activities if preferred;
- A 3 week ‘washout’ period with no daily listening;
- A further 6 week period of daily listening (to the other type of sound), and a further 3 week washout period;
- Before and after each listening and washout period, numerical rating of the loudness and impact of tinnitus at that time.
When and where?
The study will take place online over a period of 18 weeks.
Acoustic Tinnitus Manipulations Discussion
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