We are delighted to share a round-up of BTA research from last year which has been collated to share in this blog from BTA Volunteer, Rebecca Prince.

Why is there no cure for tinnitus?

Many tinnitus patients are naturally frustrated at the lack of a cure of tinnitus. In an article entitled “Why is there not cure for tinnitus?”, the authors tried to identify why this is. As part of this, they developed the Tinnitus Cure Map which identifies the issues in finding a cure for tinnitus and pinpoints exactly how to address these. This has been used to define the BTA’s research priorities, including the need to define different subtypes of tinnitus and to develop an objective method of measuring the severity of tinnitus.

This research is published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Could eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) be used to treat tinnitus?

A team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust carried out a clinical trial where people with tinnitus received 10 sessions of a psychotherapy called EMDR. They found that among the 14 participants, EMDR significantly improves their tinnitus symptoms, even six months after the treatment ended. They conclude that as this study suggested that EMDR is an effective treatment for tinnitus, a larger clinical trial is needed.

This research is published in the journal The Laryngoscope.

Using cortisol to measure the distress caused by tinnitus

Dr James Jackson at Leeds Trinity University ran a pilot study which involved measuring the levels of cortisol in the saliva of 20 people with and without tinnitus. He measured these levels first thing in the morning because this is when our cortisol levels are highest.  He found that people with more distressing tinnitus symptoms seem to produce less cortisol in the morning. He concludes that these result indicate that tinnitus has an impact on the body and that cortisol could be used to measure how distressing a patient’s tinnitus is.

This research is published in the journal American Journal of Audiology.

Are children who have tinnitus more likely to be anxious?

Researchers at Sheffield Children’s hospital looked at whether children’s levels of anxiety related to how severe their tinnitus symptoms were. They also compared levels of anxiety in people with and without hyperacusis, a condition where people are more sensitive to sounds. The participants consisted of 139 children between the ages of eight and 16. They found that the children with tinnitus and/or hyperacusis were more anxious and concluded that the healthcare professionals who work with these children should try to address their anxiety. This research has not yet been published.

Aged Veterans Project

This study, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, aimed to discover how tinnitus affects veterans in the UK. The high levels of noise experienced by soldiers puts them at a higher risk and it is known that tinnitus is a significant issue for veterans in the US. The researchers found that veterans often experience more severe tinnitus symptoms than other people, but that they don’t know much about the condition. There are also several barriers to them seeking help, including a belief that there aren’t any effective treatments for tinnitus. The report details several recommendations which include educating veterans about tinnitus and how to manage it and encouraging them to seek help. This research is published in a BTA report which can be found here.

Ongoing projects

The impact of tinnitus on professional musicians

Musicians are at risk of tinnitus due to the high levels of sound they are exposed to. In partnership with Help Musicians UK (HMUK), this research aims to explore how tinnitus impacts musicians in their everyday and professional lives and how they manage their symptoms.

CBT for tinnitus-related insomnia

Sleep disturbance is an issue for many people with tinnitus. This project aims to investigate whether cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for insomnia in people with tinnitus.

Children’s experience of tinnitus

Harriet Smith, a PhD Student at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre is researching how tinnitus affects children’s lives.

Future research

The BTA is currently accepting applications for its largest ever research grant programme. This is open to applications from researchers worldwide and will be spent on research which best meets the BTA’s research priorities, as identified from the Tinnitus Cure Map

To find out more, visit https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/large-research-grant-programme