THURSDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- One in five people suffers from tinnitus, the annoying and sometimes severely debilitating condition often referred to as "ringing in the ears," and new research may offer some hope for relief for these patients.
Although the condition currently has no cure, researchers in the Netherlands found that combining two existing therapies may help more than either single therapy alone.
Their report is published in the May 26 issue of The Lancet.
The strategies used in the study aren't new, noted Dr. Eric Smouha, an associate professor of otolaryngology and director of otology and neurotology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who was not involved with the study. However, the finding "shows hope for these people," he said.
Tinnitus can be incredibly frustrating for doctors and patients alike, added another expert, Dr. Michael Seidman, director of otologic/neurotologic surgery at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, because there is no cure for the condition and even good treatments are elusive.
Smouha also pointed out that doctors look for an underlying cause but usually can't find one.
Finding a remedy -- if there is one -- is very much a trial-and-error adventure, Seidman said. Dietary modifications (such as cutting out caffeine or alcohol, herbs including Ginkgo biloba), therapy, and even some drugs (such as anti-anxiety medications to facilitate sleep) may help some patients.
Right now, clinicians often rely on one of two main treatments for tinnitus. One, called "tinnitus retraining therapy," involves exposing the patient to another, more neutral sound to mask the tinnitus, along with counseling.
The second is "cognitive behavioral therapy," which includes correcting distorted thought patterns, relaxation techniques and mindfulness instruction.
To date, though, no one h
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