Health: Listen up

• A collaborative approach is bringing hope for tinnitus sufferers.

A NEW collaborative approach to researching tinnitus could lead to a breakthrough in treatment, says the Tinnitus Research Initiative.

Historically, tinnitus research has been undertaken by individuals or small groups from a wide range of disciplines working independently.

But the non-profit foundation Tinnitus Research Initiative is bringing together experts from a variety of fields to collaborate.

TRI’s Winny Schlee reckons the new approach will reap dividends.


“What makes us optimistic about tinnitus research are two facts: First, the group of scientists that are doing research on tinnitus is also becoming more heterogenous.

“This increases the chances to find much better tinnitus treatments.

“At the tinnitus conferences we have nowadays, experts from ear, nose and throat; psychology; physical therapists; geneticists; audiologists; software engineers; data mining experts; dentists and much more.

“Second, the amount of research is increasing – the amount of scientific publications doubled in the last 10 years.“

About 10 per cent of the world’s adult population experiences some degree of tinnitus.

Even though no external sound is present, they hear ringing, roaring, clicking, hissing or buzzing noises.

Many learn to ignore the sounds and experience no major effects.

But for about one in 100, the noise interferes with daily life and can impact sleep, concentration, work and hearing.

It is estimated that 13 million people in Western Europe and the USA currently seek medical advice for their tinnitus.

“Tinnitus is a heterogenous and complex medical condition,” says Ms Schlee.

“There are many different causes and tinnitus is difficult to treat. One of the most important tinnitus preventions is to protect your hearing from loud and continuous noise exposure.“

Treating ear infections swiftly and effectively with prescribed medication can also reduce the risk of any long-term damage that could lead to tinnitus.

Tinnitus Awareness Week is February 3-9.

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