Tinnitus research and treatment

Originally Published: April 5, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 22, 2009
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Dear Alice,

Any new breakthrough, new therapy, or drugs for tinnitus or head noise? More and more people are being affected by this and some commit suicide since they cannot sleep.

As technology and science continue to evolve, there will always be new research to prevent and treat many medical conditions. Tinnitus is also known as noise or ringing in the ears. Up to fifty percent of people with tinnitus may have a specific diagnosis that will allow for more focused treatment. For those without a known cause, the issue becomes figuring out how to manage the condition.

You're right that tinnitus, whether it's a humming, a pulsating sound, or a shrill shriek, may be experienced as a minor irritation, or as a devastating disability that makes daily life more stressful and sleep even worse. For some, the uncomfortable noise can be accompanied by hearing loss.

Research is being conducted with varied approaches including biofeedback, acupuncture, behavioral therapies, hypnosis, antidepressants, tranquilizers, anesthetic agents, prostaglandins (fatty acids that regulate functioning of the ear), and surgery (cutting the cochlea nerve, inserting electric stimulating devices, or placing so-called cochlea implants).

With such a variety of treatments under investigation, it is clear that tinnitus is a serious problem for many people, but one with no current cure. The American Tinnitus Association provides an excellent list of tips for managing the condition, including possible treatment options. They also provide the latest updates on research and resources. It may make sense for you to visit with a health care provider. Columbia students can make an appointment with Primary Care Medical Services by calling x4-2284 or by logging into Open Communicator.

"Hears" to some relief for you soon.