Doctors and Tinnitus Treatment Options
Based on the anecdotes I’ve received from a lot of AudioNotch users, I’ve come to believe that many physicians are not very well versed in the treatment options available for tinnitus and the level of research behind them. Consider the following response to a patient’s query on a popular “Ask the Doctor” column:
Dear Dr. Roach • I have been hearing a steady hissing sound in my left ear since 1990. I saw on TV that lipoflavonoid would work for it. Have you ever heard of this? — N.N.
Answer • Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any external source. It can sound like ringing, hissing, buzzing or other noises. There are many alternative treatments for tinnitus, largely because traditional medicine doesn’t have a lot to offer by way of treatment. The most effective treatment I have found in my patients is masking: using another sound, such as white noise, to make the tinnitus sensation less noticeable and hopefully less troubling.
Many medications have been tried. I was unable to find any good evidence for lipoflavonoids helping tinnitus. Hearing loss, often due to loud-noise exposure, is frequently associated. A visit to an ear, nose and throat doctor at least once is appropriate to look for rare but serious causes of tinnitus.
Fairly lacking, isn’t it? This isn’t that surprising. In medical school emphasis is placed on other illnesses that more directly harm patients (i.e. heart disease causing heart attacks, for example). As a general rule very little attention is devoted to tinnitus given the overwhelming breadth of illnesses that trainees need to learn about. I myself was incredibly frustrated by the dearth of treatment options offered even by an ENT that I visited. And I’ve heard many similar anecdotes from AudioNotch users.
If you’ve got tinnitus and this is something you’re interested in, I urge you to check out some of the articles I’ve written on tinnitus treatment: