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Tinnitus cure

the bells... the bells...
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Tinnitus is ringing in the ears. It is common and harmless but can be very annoying. Usually the ringing is a pure tone, and the result of degerative changes in the hearing organs.

I propose that destructive interference be used to negate the ringing in the ears. The sufferer would first match their tone with one generated on an oscilloscope. The exact opposite tone could then be generated. Since many folks with tinnitus wear hearing aids already (you reading this, mom?) the hearing aid could be programmed to emit the counterbalancing sound.

If it turns out that one cannot destroy a perceived but unreal sound, the tinnitus sufferer would then be treated to the unique pleasure of hearing simultaneously a sound and its opposite - a phenomenon never before accomplished!

bungston, Jan 19 2004

American Tinnitus Association http://www.ata.org/
They dunno nuffink neither. [phlogiston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Feedback therapy http://www.bixby.or...atmnt.html#feedback
[hazel, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Noise Relief Tinnitus Treatment http://www.noiserelief.com
Noise Relief Tinnitus Treatment: Auditory Habituation [almostthere, Mar 20 2006]


       This is really a great idea. I know some people that suffer from this, and I am sure that any attempt to make this anymore comfortable for them would mean alot to each and every one. +++
babyhawk, Jan 19 2004

       Is this the Holy Grail of tinnitus sufferers?. Like Jimi Hendrix trying to get two notes of feedback at the same time?.
Tinnitus is apparently independent of external stimuli and as such you are merely adding to the noise, no?
gnomethang, Jan 19 2004

       I'm reasonably certain this would not work, since noise cancellation requires that the originating noise actually exist, and not be a side effect of physiological changes in the state of the auditory canal and associated nerve channels.
waugsqueke, Jan 19 2004

       gosh, i suffer from this, and it is really annoying Is that the phone?
benlevi7, Jan 20 2004

       ...and this is the machine that goes Ping.   

       My tinnitus is a clicking that accompanies shrill noises. Various sounds cause it to click, the most reliable being the piezo tone from a wrist watch alarm. The click itself isn't much, sounds like a good clean knuckle cracking in my left ear canal. I wonder if I could get the present invention modified to work on my trigger sounds; it would only need to cut the volume of the source down, not eliminate it completely, because when I muffle my watch, the clicking stops. Any thoughts?
oxen crossing, Jan 20 2004

       I worked with a man who had a bad case of tinnitus. He said he was in some sort of therapy where he would first match of the ringing with a synthesized pitch, and then listen to that synthesized pitch at a level and duration that would desensitize him to the ringing for at least a little while.   

       Apparently it provided some relief, but he always preached about protecting one's hearing...
swamilad, Jan 20 2004

       I wonder if tinnitis is merely psychological. If it is, perhaps a Pavlovian strategy would work. First, associate the smell of beef with absolute quietness. Then, of course, a ringing sound with the smell of beef. Now, every time you hear a ringing, you'd associate that with the smell of beef, and then absolute quiet. Voila! Tinnitis cured. The only side effect would be frothing of the mouth. Which could be cured by: beef.
kevindimie, Jan 20 2004

       Harmless? Nay. I went to college with a woman who had constant tinnitus and it drove her up the wall. She ended up attempting to commit suicide. Having only suffered this after concerts etc. I can't speak from personal experience but I'd say anything that alleviates the symptoms would be worth a try.
squeak, Jan 20 2004

       The American Tinnitus Association put up a huge website (linky) all about it, which on detailed analysis agrees exactly with [UB]. Nobody knows what it is, where it comes from, how it works, how it can be eliminated. As a steadily worsening sufferer (particularly at night), I would give anything, yea, even unto a royally-frosted medium-warm cupcake, for a hint of a glimpse of an idea of a cure.   

       Imagine, if you will, the aural effect of standing on the rank patch of grass between the pair of active SFO runways, while two squadrons of F15s use the runways to practice getting from sea level to 30,000 feet in a big hurry.
phlogiston, Jan 20 2004

       //There is no noise associated with tinnitus// not sure I agree with that or perhaps I do not understand.   

       during bouts of what I imagine to be tinnitus (and I spent a few years working in an ENT dept of a large London Teaching Hospital) it may well be that my aural nerves are being stimulated in an unusual manner but I definitely hear sounds.   

       One woman I met during my ENT days would hear various choirs singing hymns and another man picked up the radio via his hearing aid.
po, Jan 20 2004

       its associated with heaps of things, Meniere's Syndrome, high blood pressure, etc
po, Jan 20 2004

       Depending on the cause of the tinnitus, you might be able to cancel the tinnitus tones, providing that you know both their frequencies and phases exactly. Obtaining the information would in practice need some kind of direct feedback from the brain, since the frequencies and/or phases can be slightly time-varying. Try using two signal generators to create tones that cancel each other - you'll find that it's extremely difficult, since even very small errors cause the tones gradually shift out of phase.   

       It has been reported that horses some times have so bad a tinnitus that the ringing can actually be heard from the poor animal's ear. The sound is probably generated by the hair cells of the cochlea. Normally, incoming sound causes the cells to vibrate, but they are known to be able to vibrate also without external stimulus, causing a phenomenon called otoacoustic emission. In theory, you could perhaps build an adaptive noise cancellation system that tries to measure the tinnitus from the ear with a microphone, but I doubt the current microphones are sensitive enough.   

       Despite my cynicism, I would warmly welcome a solution. Good luck to all you crazy propellerheads!
pjhamala, Jan 21 2004

       I hope someone finds a cure soon. I'm fed up with the constant whirring sound - sounds like a propellor.
PeterSilly, Jan 21 2004

       I've wondered about this myself since my own tinnitus is a fairly pure tone (though it is decreasing in pitch as I get older). Apparently it has been tried - see link - but it seems fairly controversial.   

       Other treatment options include playing "white noise" to drown out the sounds of the tinnitus itself.
hazel, Jan 21 2004

       Tinnitus is a neurologic (not psychologic) problem. The "sound" of ringing is a function of nerve impulses, not a direct response to vibrations in the air (sound).   

       ATA is not saying Tinnitus has an unknown cause- they are in fact pointing out many causes. What is unknow is how the auditory nerves and brain work, and what causes the sensation of sound when no vibration is present.   

       I think this is an okay idea- but it is based on a premise that sound is part of the ringing- something I doubt. Having been in a nearly anechoic studio booth I can say my ringing was far worse in the absolute quiet.
xylene, Jan 21 2004

       I have Tinnitus. Tinnitus is not psychological, its neurological. I've had it for as long as I can remember. I always listened to loud music, hung around arcades for hours on end, hung around game shops playing CS, Q3, Unreal and what not etc... I hear an incessant, high pitched whistle in both ears, in the left more than the right, and it seems loudest when the room is all quiet. When people are blabbering around in a room, I can't hear any individual person. Treble sounds are muted... I doubt this will work but its worth a try anyway. Noise cancellation devices operate on the principle that there is an existing wavelength of sound for the opposite (cancelling) wavelength to work... as for the clicking sound in [Oxen Crossing]'s head, it seems like there's some sort of muscle (?) in the ear that protects it from loud noises, which suddenly contracts when one hears a loud noise, causing the clicking sound. But I dunno.
mailtosalonga, Aug 10 2004

       Still, they do say a change is as good as a rest.
lostdog, Aug 10 2004

       Hmmmm. Seems like this problem, tintinitus, ought to be sovlable. Let's assume the perception of the tone is independent of the ear. It would then require a chip in the brain somewhere. This chip would perceive the frequency and put out its own tone, same frequency, but displaced by 180 degrees thus cancelling the existence of the tone? Might require large advance in neuro-chip integration technology however.
Garboon, Sep 27 2005

       I have tinnitus for about 53 days now, and it is a pain. So I really want a cure, and read about it on the net. I am no expert, but I am sorry, this idea will not work. This is what I think - The cochlear (inner ear) is transforming sound to frequency by its physical construction, and so the nerves that are there are picking the existence or non existence of a certain frequency. This they transmit to the brain. And nerves get a signal when the frequency exist. Also, I think that the brain doesn't work in the speed of the sound that it hears. That is, if it hears 15000Hz it doesn't signal 15000 times per second over that sound. It just give one signal that the 15000Hz sound exist, and it gives it in its own rhythm. The brain's rhythm. To this information there is no phase. It is just excited or not excited neurons. And if you would build a device, and try to add sound, it would just add more excited signals, but no physical phenomenas of wave composition would happen. The brain is not an electronic circuit, but more of a logical unit, which is composed of many smaller logical units which are either excited or not.   

       I am sorry.   

       To add a positive note, I think that brain stem cells are one answer that can help this problem, and many others. So it would be good if they would research them, and learn how to use them to cure tinnitus. But as we all know ... time. It would take time, and support. It would also require our support, since some people oppose this kind of research.
kaltufas, Apr 23 2006

       Bigsleep - That is good for you. I also had that kind of tinnitus, for which getting away from the TV did help. You can also get an LCD TV, or try to cancel the TV's 15KHz noise. There is also a kind of therapy which is called TRT, tinnitus retraining therapy, which is supposed to be just that - training the brain to ignore the tinnitus, or unlearning it like you said. The brain can learn many things, some folks found a way to teach it that. Maybe this could help me too, but I have my tinnitus from a slap to the ear, it is much louder then the usual one, and I am still hopeful that it is just a reversible tissue damage, and that it would heal.
kaltufas, Apr 26 2006


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