Tinnitus refers to ringing and other sounds experienced within one’s own ears. Severe cases can cause significant distress that interferes with quality of life. Sono, a new Class IIa medical device, makes an experimental tinnitus treatment available to patients at home.

Tinnitus causes include age-related hearing loss, ear infections, and traumatic injury. Recent research has demonstrated that tinnitus stems from damage to sensory neurons rather than inner ear structures. In light of this development, interest in using existing neurostimulation therapies to address tinnitus continues to expand. Treatments such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS) aren’t yet clinically validated for tinnitus. But early research does suggest that these techniques may be effective in treating — and possibly even curing — many types of tinnitus.

Long-term tinnitus sufferers have often spent years experimenting with dozens of treatment options in the hopes of eliminating, or at least minimizing, the whooshing, roaring, clicking, or ringing sounds that plague them. These range from talk therapy and psychiatric medications to sound therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and other wellness treatments… but there’s no evidence that these options can cure tinnitus. Regardless, the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) encourages patients to explore all available tools that could lessen the perceived burden of the disease.

Based on current studies, Austrian startup Cleanhearing designed Sono as another tool for the tinnitus patient’s toolkit. Over a pair of specialized headphones, Sono sends pulses of electromagnetic energy safely through the ears to the brain, stimulating neurons in the auditory cortex and temporal regions. The low-frequency electromagnetic pulses encourage natural healing and regrowth of nerve tissue in those areas. Approved for home use, Sono has earned the European CE mark as a Class IIa medical device, a designation that parallels the FDA’s Class IIa requirements.

Users can relax during Sono treatments, administered via a hand controller with preprogrammed settings. A companion mobile app lets users keep a diary of Sono sessions. They can also use the app to select music therapy, relaxing sounds, or white, blue, brown, pink, or violet noise for integration into their treatments.

With virtually no side effects and growing evidence to support its effectiveness, investing in Sono sounds like a no-brainer for individuals with severe tinnitus. In fact, with Sono, Clearhearing may have fast-tracked the first-ever cure for tinnitus directly to the ears of the patients who need it most.