As many as 1 in 3 people may experience tinnitus, so if you have ringing or buzzing in the ears, you’re not alone. Symptoms range from mild to debilitating and can be quite the nuisance, interfering with everyday activities. Fortunately, tinnitus can be effectively managed for a better quality of life.


Just like hearing loss, tinnitus is irreversible. The good news is, just like with hearing loss, audiologists can offer quite a few ways to manage the symptoms of the problem. One of the new ways audiologists are treating the symptoms of tinnitus is sending literal electrical pulses through the hearing health community!


Instead of matching the tone and canceling it out, like the hearing aids that feature tinnitus relief, this new type of therapy is approaching tinnitus in a way that some say reprograms the brain. We will take a deep-dive into the two similar (but different) FDA-approved therapies that work off the same premise — bimodal neuromodulation. Before we unpack those two intense words, let’s go back to the beginning and lay out the basics of tinnitus.


What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition involving persistent self-perceived sounds in one or both ears or the head, without any external source. A ringing sensation is often described, but the sounds can also include whistling, hissing, pulsing, or even — in rare cases — musical notes, and the sounds are usually heard only by the affected person.


It’s a Symptom — Not a Disease

Rather than a disease, tinnitus is usually a symptom of some underlying issue. The primary problem could be noise exposure, excess earwax buildup; medication; head trauma; Ménière’s disease, an inner-ear disorder; or another condition. Sometimes addressing the condition may clear up the tinnitus.


Hearing Loss Is Strongly Linked

Most tinnitus cases occur with hearing loss, making it all the more important to stay atop your hearing health. When hearing loss is addressed through properly fit hearing aids, many people notice a reduction in their tinnitus while also hearing everyday sounds more clearly.


Treatment Options Abound

Successful tinnitus management starts with a comprehensive evaluation, which can rule out

potential medical factors (fluid buildup from an ear infection, for example) and a treatment plan. Tailored solutions may include hearing technology, sound therapy, lifestyle changes, or other options.

In recent years, however, a new type of tinnitus therapy has been researched in Ireland and in the United States. The premise this new therapy is built on is called bimodal neuromodulation.


What Is Bimodal Neuromodulation?

In basic terms, neuromodulation is referring to altering the way the brain’s pathways are flowing. “Bimodal” therapy refers to using two methods of sensory stimulation simultaneously, touch and sound, in this case. Research has shown that, for many people, bimodal neural stimulation improves the symptoms of tinnitus.

The magic behind bimodal neuromodulation’s success in the realm of tinnitus is not magic at all, but due to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is another word for the adaptability of your brain. Each time you have a new experience, your brain’s structure is changed forever. The phrase, “You can’t un-ring that bell,” comes to mind.

Neuroplasticity is how you remember, learn, and are able to think in new ways. In testing bimodal stimulation, scientists used sound and electrical stimulation at the same time, and that was then shown to lead to neuroplasticity in those areas of the brain. It was especially positive in certain areas of the brain, and they noticed significant reduction in the symptoms of tinnitus.


Two New FDA-Approved Therapies

Two new therapies have come out of the research of bimodal neuromodulation; they’re called Lenire and Neosensory Duo. They’ve been approved by the FDA. Lenire, by Irish company Neuromod, was approved as recently as March 7 of 2023.

These two therapies work similarly yet are very different.  Both use a series of sounds, but are also connected to different apparatuses and different body parts. The Neosensory Duo functions via electrical impulses to your wrist, and Lenire functions via electrical impulses to the tongue.


How Does Lenire Work?

When you walk into an appointment to soothe your tinnitus symptoms with Lenire, you’re led into a room and asked to put on a pair of special wireless headphones. Next, you’re asked to place a tongue-tip stimulator into the front of your mouth that uses 32 electrodes and is attached to a controller. The headphones play soothing sounds and, at the same time, the stimulator buzzes your tongue with gentle electrical pulses.

The aim is to stimulate the trigeminal nerve in your tongue and simultaneously perk up the auditory nerves in your ear in a very specific way. In doing this, the hope is that, over time, the highways tinnitus has used within the brain will be altered and ultimately minimized.

Bimodal neuromodulation induces positive changes (through neuroplasticity) into the brain to ease the uncomfortable symptoms of tinnitus. The sounds and pulses work together to retrain your brain. You pay less attention to your tinnitus, lessening its impact on your life.


Through the combined efforts of audiologists and neuroscientists, the Neosensory Duo came into being as a therapy for tinnitus. It works in a similar way as the Lenire treatment, but you feel the stimulation on your wrist instead of your tongue. It looks very much like a watch.

The wristband (inclusive, as it’s available in various sizes) is fitted with four motors that vibrate on the skin. The vibrations are synchronized to sounds you listen to through an app on your phone. The simultaneous stimulation through sound and touch is aimed at helping your brain rewire itself to handle tinnitus as much less of a constant irritation.


Both treatments have had positive results. According to the National Institute of Health, when the Lenire trial came to an end, participants were asked, “Overall, would you say you have benefitted from using this device?” and, out of 172 responses, 70.3% indicated, “Yes.”

The research showed a majority success in soothing tinnitus symptoms for the Neosensory Duo as well. The results showed that the study participants with the greatest severity of tinnitus symptoms also showed the greatest amount of improvement.


If you have symptoms from tinnitus, your best bet is to talk to your audiologist.  They can diagnose and create a treatment plan just for you!

In fact, if the Lenire treatment sounds intriguing to you, you’re going to have to speak to your audiologist anyhow. Lenire is not available over the counter, as the device is tailored to each patient’s unique needs and based on their hearing profile. The Lenire treatment must be prescribed through a certified medical professional after a detailed tinnitus consultation.

The Neosensory Duo is available online, but it is never recommended to self-diagnose. Please call your local audiologist and they can guide you in the way that only a true expert can.

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