Tinnitus: When the World is Too Loud

Derived from the Latin verb tinnire (to ring), the term tinnitus describes the conscious perception of an auditory sensation in the absence of a corresponding external stimulus. Tinnitus is a common medical condition that can be debilitating, often leading to hearing loss, ototoxic medication, head injury, and depression.

Tinnitus is a common condition. According to the American Tinnitus Association, it affects over 50 million people in the United States (one in every eight Americans) and some 250 million worldwide. The VA has reported that it is one of the most prevalent problems with many of the veterans returning from combat duty. Recently, research has led to possible treatments for this condition. This article will discuss the current knowledge of tinnitus, and critically assess the emerging treatment approaches.

Those who are affected by tinnitus often report a hissing, sizzling, and/or ringing sound that is either rhythmical or pulsatile. While some suffer from a constant experience of these symptoms, others may only experience it intermittently. Additionally, it may affect one, or both of the ears, or centrally within the head. While some described an abrupt onset of tinnitus, others experience a more insidious flow of symptoms. Often times, the severity of tinnitus and exacerbation of symptoms are linked with stress.

There are about 15,000 hair cells in the cochlea (part of the inner ear) that convey signals to the auditory nerve leading to the brain, effectively allowing one to hear. These hair cells can be damaged by loud noises, disease, certain medicines, or aging. Many believe that the hair cells do not regenerate, so once they are destroyed, it could be a permanent loss.

However, this has not stopped companies from trying to improve hearing or prevent loss of hearing from trauma like loud noises or exposure to chemotherapy drugs or widely used antibiotics. Over the last several years, there has been significant progress into understanding tinnitus and the development of novel approaches to treatment. Current treatments have been found to improve quality of life and reduce awareness of, and reaction to, tinnitus.

Tinnitus can be caused by many things, including exposure to hearing loss. While some treatments include behavioral therapy and devices that mask the sound, this merely allows sufferers to tolerate the condition and temporarily alleviate symptoms, thus creating a need for a medical breakthrough to not only treat the condition permanently, but to offer preventative therapies as well.

One of the recent breakthroughs in tinnitus treatment comes from a Swedish-based company called Sensori AB. Sensori is a publicly listed company that invests in innovative products that improve the lives of those who suffer from major disease groups globally within the ears, nose and throat area while providing socio-economic added value through reducing healthcare consumption and reducing antibiotics and drug consumption.

Their lead product is Antinitus, a patch designed to relieve the negative effects of tinnitus. Antinitus is a registered medical device product, Class 1 according to EU Directive 93/42 / EEC. The product is used externally and consists of a crescent shaped patch attached to the skin behind the ear. The patch contains no chemical constituents and consists of a patented typographic grid. The raster lens breaks the incident light so that it passes further into the tissue in a more uniform and orderly form. This reduces the perceived noise and relieves the discomfort of tinnitus.

Exactly how the relief of the discomfort occurs is not known today, but there are likely similarities to the effects of low intensity laser therapy that have started to be used in recent years. Unlike the laser equipment, however, Antinitus is a completely passive product, with no energy supply other than the surrounding light.

There are no single or uniformly proven and well-functioning method that helps everyone with tinnitus. Today’s most widely used methods are cognitive behavioral therapy and various therapies with sound simulation and hearing aids, all of which are time-consuming and resource-intensive. With an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population suffering from tinnitus discomfort, the potential is great for a functioning treatment market.

Sensori’s assessment is that the market potential is estimated to reach more than 500 million people globally. They put a lot of resources into education and marketing strategies together with their audiologists and doctors to ensure global success for their products.

Another company making strides in offering solutions to sufferers of tinnitus is ADM Tronics. The company has two products in development that are aimed at treating this condition. The first product, the Aurex-3, is an electronic therapy device for the treatment and control of Tinnitus. It is a non-invasive therapeutic device.

Aurex-3 works by putting a vibratory sound against the mastoid bone, the bone behind the ear where the cochlea is located – also known as the chamber of the ear containing the body’s “hearing nerves”.

The device is tuned to a person’s own severity of tinnitus, and through this, users can treat and control it. It’s non-invasive, using a probe that goes behind the ear.

The therapy is typically applied two or three times per day, and after time, a user is able to slowly reduce the amount of usage, creating longer lapses of time without experiencing symptoms of tinnitus.

The company previously had a different version of the Aurex on the market, which was FDA-cleared, but recently re-engineered a newer version with digital capabilities. These capabilities will allow the new version to be linked with smartphone, tablet and cloud connectivity, permitting a patient’s usage and progress to be delivered wirelessly to the healthcare provider.

ADMT is currently in the midst of finalizing the development of the new version, and plans to submit to the FDA for by the end of the 2017 calendar year. It will be submitted under a 510 (k), which could take four to six months, meaning ADMT hopes to have it on the U.S. market by 2018. The company also anticipates receiving the CE mark as well, creating a pathway to the European market prior to 2018.

The second product that ADMT has developed for the treatment of tinnitus is called the Tinnitus Shield. It is the result of ADMT’s arrangement with a company called Otifleks, which specializes in hearing protection products. Jointly, the two company developed a tinnitus prevention product, that not only prevents tinnitus, but treats it as well.

ADMT is currently taking pre-orders now for the Tinnitus Shield, and expects to generate revenues with that technology starting next month.

With three new products available and on the market for the treatment of tinnitus, it appears as if there is substantial progress being made to alleviate tinnitus, and prevent the onset of symptoms all together.

Be sure to check back for more updates on Sensori AB and ADMT’s progress in the tinnitus market, especially OneMedMarket’s Sector Report on Tinnitus, portions of which will be available on our website. The Sector Report will consist of a comprehensive overview of the tinnitus space, including prevalence in the U.S. and abroad, causes, symptoms, clinical need and profiles of emerging growth companies with breakthrough tinnitus technologies.