Tinnitus comes from the Latin word "tinnire", meaning “ringing, clinking or rattling”, and is a common condition experienced by about 15-20 percent of the world’s population. Around 2-3 percent of the world's population experience cumbersome issues due to this condition. A further 2-3 percent have severe, life-threatening tinnitus, which greatly affects their quality of life. Tinnitus can be caused by many different factors such as stress, illness, hearing loss, noise and side effects of medication.
Tinnitus can occur suddenly but may also develop over a long period of time and affect all ages, although it is most common among the elderly. It can also be hereditary. People suffering from tinnitus may experience problems such as difficulty in focusing, fatigue and anxiety – factors that all have a strong impact on one’s quality of life.
Currently, one-in-six Swedes claim to experience tinnitus. For the majority of those afflicted, the symptoms are mild, but for others, they can be extremely stressful. It is also estimated that 30 percent of the world’s population will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives. This figure is expected to increase, in part due to the increasing use of in-ear headphones and loud music, but also due to the increasing number of people who are suffering from stress and depression. In addition to this, our life expectancy today is much higher than what it was in the past.
Although tinnitus greatly impacts those affected by it, it is not a disease in itself but an agglomeration of symptoms, which researchers believe may be the reason as to why it does not receive as much attention as other serious health issues. Tinnitus can be the result of many different factors, and a definite cause has yet to be determined. Patients have testified to having been told that there is nothing healthcare providers can do to help them, and that they simply need to learn to live with their condition.
Modern healthcare is largely based on establishing diagnoses and the treating injuries and illnesses through medicine and surgery. The problem is, there are many conditions that cannot be treated using medication or surgery. For this reason, patients with chronic pain and incurable diseases can easily fall between the cracks. This is often the case for patients suffering from tinnitus.
Although tinnitus is a condition for which there currently is no cure, there are a number of treatment methods available. One option that has been shown to be effective is “Tinnitus Retraining Therapy” – TRT.
TRT is a treatment method for tinnitus and hypersensitivity to sound (hyperacusis), where sound stimulation is used to “unload” the brain and relieve the patient’s tinnitus. The purpose of TRT is to reduce the impact tinnitus has on the patient’s everyday life by using white noise to reduce the contrast between sound and silence.
TRT is based on the neurophysiological model developed in the early 1990s by the American physician and researcher Pawel Jastreboff. This model is of major importance in helping us understand how patients are affected by their tinnitus and why some find it very bothersome while others do not perceive it as a major problem.
TRT uses sound stimulation that adds broadband noise at a lower level, known as white noise. This is combined with structured counselling, CBT, where patients can learn to manage their tinnitus using various methods supported by science and clinical reports. The aim of TRT is to reduce the individual’s negative reactions to the sounds they experience, such as irritation and discomfort.
White noise is a term used for sounds that mask other naturally occurring sounds in our environment. It can help eliminate or at least minimise unwanted sounds and has been shown to be very effective in treating tinnitus. It has also been used to improve sleep quality, reduce stress, relieve pain and improve our ability to focus.
The application of low-level noise cushions the effects of the patient's tinnitus, thereby allowing him or her to experience relief. The sound stimulator aims to help the brain perceive that its own tinnitus sounds emanate from the surroundings and are thus a part of natural background noise.
It is estimated that TRT can help around 70-80 percent of people suffering from tinnitus. In Sweden, the use of TRT has not yet become as widespread as in many other countries, but studies have shown that this treatment has helped many people who suffer from tinnitus.
Whilst TRT has delivered proven and positive results, the treatment method requires the patient to be exposed to sound stimulation and white noise continuously for 6-8 hours per day for a period of 6 to 24 months. Many patients have reported disturbances and discomfort in the ear canals by the earphones that play this noise. The problems are so severe that many are currently electing to discontinue treatment before it has had time to take any effect.
Tinearity G1 is a completely new and unique Medtech classified product intended for the relief and treatment of tinnitus on the individual's own terms. Tinearity G1 is based on TRT and uses bone conduction technology, which means that white noise is introduced into the ear via the skull. The result of this is that the ear canal is kept free and that the treatment can be carried out at any time during the day or night. Keeping the ear canals free also means that Tinearity G1 can be used for longer periods of time without causing irritation in the ear canal.