Scientists have found a way to alleviate the misery of tinnitus after just four weeks.
Around 15 per cent of people across the world are believed to suffer from tinnitus, which causes phantom sounds such as buzzing and whistling in their ears.
Many are unable to work, suffer distress, sleep disturbance and depression from the noise they cannot stop.
However scientists have found a way to ‘reset’ the brain cells, which eliminated tinnitus in two people and made it less harsh and easier to ignore for another 11 people.
The treatment consists of four weeks of sounds matched to individuals’ tinnitus, listened to in daily half-hour sessions through headphones, while getting simultaneous mild electric shocks to the cheek or neck.
Around 15 per cent of people across the world are believed to suffer from tinnitus, which causes phantom sounds such as buzzing and whistling in their ears
Based on years of scientific research into the root causes of tinnitus, it appears to stop the ‘phantom signal’ in the brain which causes the condition.
Dr Susan Shore, who led the research from the University of Michigan, said: ‘If we can stop these signals, we can stop tinnitus. That is what our approach attempts to do, and we're encouraged by these initial parallel results in animals and humans.’
Tinnitus can be triggered by loud noises, affecting soldiers exposed to explosions in war or people who have worked around noisy machinery.
But it also develops over time, affecting people as they grow older and lose their hearing or following an ear infection.
Tinnitus strikes when brain cells which help us focus on where sounds are coming from, and tune out sensations from our own head and neck, start to misfire. They send out signals which make sufferers believe they can hear ringing, whistling, hissing or buzzing sounds, without an actual sound in the