We’re often asked about the future of treatment for tinnitus or about a specific study someone has heard about. We know that a lot of the information about research studies is difficult to access and even harder to understand.
Where Can I Find Research?
If you’re looking for more information about tinnitus research studies, a good place to start is this resource from the US National Library of Health.
It houses a database where clinicians and scientists can register their research studies before they start. It is then updated with progress on the study and hopefully also the final result.
It’s not a perfect resource, some studies aren’t listed there, and some listings are incomplete or out of date, but it helps to give us an idea of what sort of studies are out there and the sort of treatments that may be in the pipeline for tinnitus in the future.
We’ve chosen three tinnitus studies that particularly interest us. We hope that you also find them useful.
This study explored the effects of a new drug treatment for tinnitus. It's produced by a company called Otonomy and currently has the code name OTO-313. It is a formulation of a drug called Gacyclidine, which blocks the NMDA receptor: found inside nerves and linked to perception of tinnitus.
This trial drug is given by injection through the ear drum with the aim of improving tinnitus.
It’s too early to say for sure whether the drug works or not as this study was an early phase trial. These types of trial are designed to investigate safety in humans, rather focusing on showing how effective the drug is.
However, early results look really promising. It’s still very early days, but it’s very interesting to see treatments like this in development. You can read a paper based on the study here.
This interesting study is based in Belgium, exploring how effective a combined programme of tinnitus counselling and physiotherapy is.
One group will have physiotherapy delivered digitally.
This type of delivery follows a strong trend towards telehealth approaches in healthcare. It means that the treatment can be delivered at times patients want and in ways that fit their lifestyle most easily.
This study compared an internet delivered tinnitus intervention based on cognitive behavioural therapy with more typical in person tinnitus therapy, with marked improvements in both groups.
You can find a number of academic papers exploring this further by searching for the lead scientist’s name (called the principal investigator) in PubMed.
PubMed is another US government funded database for medical research. Given the changes to healthcare provision due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising that there is a lot of interest in alternative approaches to providing care for people with tinnitus.
It’s good to see that such approaches can be successful.
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What Does the Current Research Recommend?
There is a lot of advice for tinnitus online and it can be very hard to figure out what to trust. Check out this comprehensive guide to tinnitus treatments if you're trying to understand what to believe and what to ignore.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which provides the professional standards for public health and social care, have reviewed all the evidence surrounding tinnitus. NICE guidelines suggest that psychological therapies, including tinnitus-related cognitive behavioural therapy is the best, most effective way to manage tinnitus.
If you'd like to try this out, take a look at Oto's digitally delivered programme of evidence-based CBT, mindfulness and relaxation, to help you manage tinnitus.