How can people with tinnitus be helped?
Tinnitus is a disease that causes people to hear noise all the time, without any real external noise sources. Researchers have now found that a special type of treatment can help people with tinitus to better deal with their problem.
In their current joint study, scientists from University College London and the University of Bath found that so-called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can dramatically reduce the effects of tinnitus. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Ear and Hearing".
What is tinnitus?
When people hear a constant hissing or whistling in their ears, these are typical effects of tinnitus. The special thing about this disease is that there is no real external sound source from which the noise could come. The sounds of tinnitus can occur permanently or only partially. Either only one ear or both ears are affected. Tinnitus can become a great burden for those affected and lead to emotional stress, insomnia, concentration problems and hearing problems.
There is no permanent cure for tinnitus
The causes of tinnitus are still unknown. The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) explains that the uncomfortable condition develops from an impairment that can be either mental or physical, but has nothing to do with hearing. There is no real cure for tinnitus, but the experts say that the symptoms can be alleviated using psychological techniques. A so-called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could help those affected far more effectively than the previously used treatments for relaxation, according to the study author Dr. Laurence McKenna from University College London
75 subjects were examined for the study
In their study, the experts compared mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with relaxation therapy, a traditional treatment for people with chronic tinnitus. So they wanted to determine which type of treatment is the better option for those affected. To do this, they examined a total of 75 subjects. The study found that both treatments reduced the severity of tinnitus, mental stress, anxiety, and depression in the patients. The results also showed a clear difference between the two treatments. MBCT treatment resulted in a significantly greater reduction in tinnitus severity, and this improvement took longer, explains study author Dr. Liz Marks from the University of Bath. 182 patients who routinely received MBCT showed a similar degree of improvement.
Sufferers have to learn to accept tinnitis
Relaxation therapy is designed to help patients reduce stress. The MBCT does not try to suppress the heard sounds, instead people should learn to accept their tinnitus. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy does not aim to alter or stop the sound of tinnitus, but therapy can make the sounds less intrusive. This goes to a point where the sounds are no longer a problem for those affected.
More research is needed
The results of this research are extremely encouraging, especially for people with chronic tinnitus who feel that current treatments are not working for them. Further research is now to find out whether mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can also be used to treat insomnia caused by tinnitus. (as)