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Can Music Cure Tinnitus?

December 29, 2009

Music therapy designed for certain individuals may help reduce noise feedback in people suffering from tinnitus, or ear ringing, German scientists said on Monday.

The researchers helped patients by designing and adapting their tastes of music and then stripping out the sound frequencies that matched the individual’s tinnitus frequency.

After listening to these specially-tuned musical therapies for one year, patients reported a distinct decrease in the loudness of the ringing compared with those who had listened to non-altered placebo music.

Tinnitus is a common hearing problem in industrialized countries and the ear-ringing can often be loud enough to impair the quality of life in one to three percent of the general population.

A European Union (EU) health panel expressed concern in January about the potential for hearing damage caused by young people playing their MP3 players too loud. The EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks warned that listening to personal music devices at high volumes for long periods of time could cause hearing loss and tinnitus. The warning prompted the European Commission to issue a new safe volume standard for MP3 players.

Christo Pantev of the Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis at Westfalian Wilhelms-University, Germany, who led the study, said that “an enjoyable, low-cost, custom tailored notched music treatment” could significantly diminish the impairment from tinnitus.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

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