A company set up by a group of physics students has come up with a potential solution to the problem of temporary tinnitus which results from listening to loud music or working in a noisy environment.

Restored Hearing claim that their ‘sound therapy’ is so effective, that it can cure cases of temporary tinnitus in 99% of cases.

The students from the University of Edinburgh and University College Dublin are now preparing to launch a series of clinical trials at the UoE to see if its cure for the temporary condition can be used in treating a more serious permanent ringing in the ears.

Temporary tinnitus has a prevalence rate of 92%, and is a condition that is particularly common in children and young people. Ringing in the ears can last for several days and cause the sufferer severe irritation and discomfort. The high-pitched sound is caused when loud noises flatten the tiny hairs inside the ear. The hairs then cause interference with one another, which the brain interprets as a ‘phantom’ noise.

One of the inventors, fourth-year Physics student Eimear O’Carroll explained: "Using sound, our therapy stimulates the inner ear to promote the re-straightening of the cochlear hairs that get bent or even broken when they are subjected to high intensity sound.

"When the cochlear hairs are bent over they interfere with each other and this interference is interpreted by the brain as sound, often in the complete absence of any sound. In 99% of cases the tinnitus of the sufferer was gone after one minute of our sound therapy."

Restored Hearing began life as a secondary school project in 2007 at the Ursuline College in Sligo where Eimear and fellow pupil Rhona Togher set about finding a solution to the problem of temporary tinnitus alongside physics teacher, Anthony Carolan.

After then graduating to UoE, the two pupils set up Restored Hearing with the assistance of LAUNCH.ed, the University of Edinburgh’s student entrepreneurs business start-up programme, who, together with Enterprise Ireland have embarked on a fund raising programme which aims to raise £500,000 to develop the long term strategy for Restored Hearing’s research and development aspirations into the cure for permanent tinnitus and hearing protection products.

Posted 05/03/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com