United Kingdom, London – 05-08-2019 (PRDistribution.com) — Most people have experienced temporary ringing in their ears, usually after attending a loud event. But did you know that chronic tinnitus – a buzzing, whooshing, ringing or rattling noise that doesn’t go away – affects about 1 in 10 people? It ranges in severity from mild and barely noticeable to intrusive and debilitating.
In spite of how common it is, awareness of the condition is low, even among health professionals. This leads to patients being bounced around the healthcare system or told by their doctors: “there’s nothing we can do, just learn to live with it.” But learning to live with it is not possible for everyone. And a cure seems far off yet.The newly published European clinical practice guidelines for tinnitus offer a systematic review of available treatments, as well as recommendations for healthcare professionals. Tinnitus Hub, a volunteer-based patient organization representing over 27,000 members of their online support community Tinnitus Talk, has reviewed the guidelines. The verdict is a mixed bag for tinnitus patients. The good news is a clear message that tinnitus patients should not get brushed off when they are suffering. It should be standard practice to get a referral to an ENT, who can search for underlying causes in the ear. Patients should also get their hearing tested, and if needed get hearing aids, which do in some cases resolve tinnitus. Where specialist counselling services are available, patients with severe tinnitus should get access to them. These clear directives will no doubt help some patients who would otherwise be left in the cold.However, the guidelines also tell us that there is no effective treatment yet that resolves tinnitus for the majority of patients. There are treatments on the market that have been claimed to reduce or eliminate tinnitus, such as certain drugs, sound therapies, or brain stimulation. But these are not substantiated by high quality evidence (yet). The only treatment that does have strong, high quality, evidence in its favour, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is a psychological intervention that helps patients cope with their tinnitus. However, it does not resolve the tinnitus itself, nor does it work for everyone. Ultimately, tinnitus patients who are severely bothered by their tinnitus need a solution that eliminates their tinnitus sound.New treatments are expected to come to market soon. For instance, the Irish healthcare company Neuromod will be launching its Lenire device that combines a sound stimulus to the ears with an electrical stimulus to the tongue. But their data is not published yet, and their launch date as yet unannounced – much to the dismay of the patient community. Tinnitus patients sorely need more research to test the safety and efficacy of existing treatments and make them more widely available. But also more research on the neurological and physiological mechanisms of tinnitus, which could point to pathways for the development of new, more effective treatments. Finding a cure for tinnitus would alleviate the suffering of millions around the world, who are tormented by constant noise. But there is also a clear economic imperative. A Dutch study estimates that tinnitus poses an economic burden of EUR 6.7 billion per year to the economy of the Netherlands. A similar study in the UK estimates the societal costs in the UK at GBP 2.7 billion per year. So it’s in everyone’s interest to find a solution to this pressing public health issue.
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