Bristol, UK Researchers out of the United Kingdom’s Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies, Bristol University, have tried to assess the effectiveness of sound masking therapies to treat adult tinnitus.

The authors, Jonathan Hobson and Edward Chisholm, looked at a set of prospective randomized controlled trials that recruited adults with tinnitus and treated  them with noise-generating masking devices and/or hearing aids, used either as the sole management tool or in combination with other strategies, including counseling.

In all, the authors independently examined the 362 search results to identify studies for inclusion in the review, of which 33 were potentially relevant. Of these, the authors examined the results from six trials (553 tinnitus patients).

After reviewing these results, the authors found no significant change in the loudness of tinnitus or the overall severity of tinnitus following the use of sound therapy compared to other interventions such as patient education, relaxation techniques, tinnitus coping strategies, counseling, tinnitus retraining therapy, and reducing exposure to environmental sounds.

Despite these findings, the authors added that the absence of conclusive evidence should not be interpreted as evidence of lack of effectiveness.

Instead, they are calling for higher quality research in this area, as well as for clinicians to consider combining the therapy with other therapies, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy,

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international organization that evaluates medical research. Their goal is to perform systematic reviews of previous studies and draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practices after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

Citation: Hobson J, Chisholm E, El Refaie A. Sound therapy (masking) in the management of tinnitus in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD006371. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006371.pub2.

SOURCE: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews