Individually designed music therapy may help reduce the noise levels experienced by people who suffer from tinnitus, say German researchers.
They altered participants' favourite music to remove notes which matched the frequency of the ringing in their ears. After a year of listening to the modified music, individuals reported a drop in the loudness of their tinnitus. The researchers said the "inexpensive" treatment could be used alongside other techniques to relieve the condition.
It is thought that around 1-3% of the population have chronic ringing in their ears which is significant enough to reduce their overall quality of life.
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said although the cause of tinnitus remains unknown, it has been shown that the part of the brain that processes sounds is frequently disrupted in people with the condition.
The theory behind the new technique is that removing the spectrum of noise associated with tinnitus from the music reduces activity in the brain relating to that frequency, alleviating the condition.