Tinnitus Management Systems Can Help While Awaiting a Cure. 2019-06-28
Although there now appear to be one or two quite promising prospects, the many long years spent on the search for an effective tinnitus cure have, as yet, failed to bear fruit. Scientists have, however, gained a better understanding of the phantom ringing, buzzing, whirring, and various other subjective noises that assail the ears of those who are troubled by this often-debilitating phenomenon. In fact, it is not a condition per se, but rather an isolated symptom and one that, in rather more than half of those affected, is accompanied by some degree of hearing loss even though this may not yet have become apparent to the sufferer.
The phenomenon is one that most of us have experienced at some time, following exposure to a sudden loud noise. Fortunately, this form of tinnitus requires no cure, as it is only temporary and the symptom will fade spontaneously, at worst, within a day or two. In such cases, the ringing is invariably accompanied by muffled hearing which further implies a connection between the two. Most experts now believe that both occur when the specialised hair cells in the cochlea are damaged or destroyed. Most commonly, this occurs as a result of recurrent acoustic trauma, as a side effect of certain types of medication, or following exposure to a variety of ototoxic chemicals.
In such cases, neither the deafness nor the sensation of ringing in the ears that we know as tinnitus has a cure. However, just as is the case with hearing loss, these intrusive noises can be managed quite effectively. It will, perhaps, not be too much of a surprise to learn that the sound enrichment provided by a hearing aid can often be enough to negate those annoying phantom noises – something many new users have discovered to their delight. However, where this alone may not provide the required relief, modern hearing aids can be adapted to manage the problem in other ways.
Although not a tinnitus cure, the introduction of white noise, which is easily ignored, can serve as an effective way to mask those annoying sounds that are almost impossible to ignore. While many of the newer hearing aid models may be equipped with a built-in white noise generator, there are also accessories that may be used to provide this facility for older models.
Another approach that has proved to be helpful is cognitive behavioural therapy, which can improve the ability of tinnitus sufferers to cope mentally with their symptoms. As for a cure, several lines of research are underway and include deep-brain stimulation, brain-surface implants, and transcranial stimulation with the use of direct current and magnetism.