Nav: Home

Mindfulness is key to tinnitus relief research reveals

July 01, 2018

New UK research has found that a new mindfulness based approach to tinnitus could transform the treatment of the condition.

Published in the journals Ear and Hearing and Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, the research led by Dr Laurence McKenna from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and Dr Liz Marks, from Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, found that Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) helps to significantly reduce the severity of tinnitus compared to relaxation-based treatments, an approach recommended by many tinnitus clinics.

Tinnitus, described as a sensation or awareness of sound that is not caused by an external sound source, affects approximately six million people in the UK - 10 percent of the UK's population. Approximately 1 in 100 people are very distressed or disabled by it and as many as 1 in 20 people are at least moderately distressed by it. Tinnitus is associated with complaints of emotional stress, insomnia, auditory perceptual problems and concentration problems.

As yet there is no treatment to stop the tinnitus noise but this research, funded by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), shows clearly that treatment can make it less severe, intrusive and bothersome.

Dr Liz Marks, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, will explore the report's findings in more detail at the BTA's annual conference in Birmingham in September. She said: "We compared MBCT to relaxation therapy, a traditional treatment for people with chronic tinnitus, to determine if MBCT was a better option than the current recommended practice.

"In total 75 patients took part in the trial at UCLH's Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital receiving either MBCT or relaxation therapy. The study found that both treatments led to a reduction in tinnitus severity, psychological distress, anxiety and depression for patients.

"However, the MBCT treatment led to significantly greater reductions in tinnitus severity than the relaxation treatment, and this improvement lasted for longer. In addition, 182 patients who completed MBCT routinely in our clinic showed a similar level of improvement."

Relaxation therapy provides patients with specific skills to reduce stress arousal levels. In contrast, MBCT, taught by highly-trained clinical psychologists, teaches patients to pay purposeful, present-moment attention to experiences, rather than trying to supress those experiences. Practicing mindfulness meditation in this way can cultivate a more helpful way of responding to tinnitus. People learn how to 'allow' and 'accept' tinnitus, rather than having to 'fight it' or 'push it away'. Mindfulness does not aim to change the nature or sound of the tinnitus, but the therapy can lead to tinnitus becoming less intrusive, to a point where it is no longer a problem for people.

Dr Marks added: "MBCT turns traditional tinnitus treatment on its head - so rather than trying to avoid or mask the noise, it teaches people to stop the battle with tinnitus.

"The mindfulness approach is radically different from what most tinnitus sufferers have tried before, and it may not be right for everyone. We are confident, however, that the growing research base has demonstrated how it can offer an exciting new treatment to people who may have found that traditional treatment has not been able to help them yet. We hope the results of our research will be one of the first steps to MBCT becoming more widely adopted."

David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association, said: "The results of this research are extremely encouraging particularly for people with chronic tinnitus who find that current treatments are not working for them. We really hope that more people will be able to benefit from this approach moving forward."

"Funding this kind of innovative research is a major part of what we do here at the BTA but as a charity, we rely heavily on the donations made to us. We hope more people will support us as we work tirelessly to grow the understanding and knowledge around tinnitus in order to help people with the condition to manage."

Dr McKenna and Dr Marks are now continuing their research in tinnitus looking at how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be used to treat tinnitus related insomnia.
-end-


University of Bath

Related Tinnitus Articles:

Musicians at serious risk of tinnitus, researchers show
People working in the music industry are nearly twice as likely to develop tinnitus as people working in quieter occupations, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Manchester.
Deep brain stimulation for refractory severe tinnitus
Researchers investigated the safety and efficacy of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of refractory severe tinnitus in a small group of patients.
Parents' mental illness increases suicide risk in adults with tinnitus, hyperacusis
A study is the first to examine the relationship between parental mental illness like anxiety and depression in childhood and the risk of suicide and self-harm in adults who suffer from tinnitus, noise or ringing in the ears, and hyperacusis, extreme sensitivity to noise.
Reducing brain inflammation could treat tinnitus and other hearing loss-related disorders
Inflammation in a sound-processing region of the brain mediates ringing in the ears in mice that have noise-induced hearing loss, according to a study publishing June 18, 2019, in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Shaowen Bao of the University of Arizona, and colleagues.
Severe tinnitus associated with suicide attempts in women
Previously, severe ringing in the ears (tinnitus) has been associated with depression and anxiety, and a 2016 study reported an association with increased risk of suicide attempts.
Researchers report acute findings from Havana embassy phenomenon
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Miami describe the acute symptoms and associated clinical findings following their assessment of 25 US diplomats living in Cuba.
Discovery of new neurons in the inner ear can lead to new therapies for hearing disorders
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified four types of neurons in the peripheral auditory system, three of which are new to science.
Mindfulness is key to tinnitus relief research reveals
New studies suggest mindfulness-based CBT could significantly help tinnitus sufferers.
Noninvasive tinnitus treatment turns volume down on phantom noises
Scientists have devised a noninvasive approach to offer relief from tinnitus -- a persistent phantom perception of sound that afflicts as many as 15 percent of people in the United States.
Specially timed signals ease tinnitus symptoms in first test aimed at condition's root cause
Millions of Americans hear ringing in their ears -- a condition called tinnitus -- but a new study shows an experimental device could help quiet the phantom sounds by targeting unruly nerve activity in the brain.
More Tinnitus News and Tinnitus Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.