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Tinnitus Relief: Therapy Mix Helps Ringing in Ears

Combining Parts of Sound Retraining and Talk Therapy Can Give Relief

Combining Treatments: Results

After 12 months, those in the specialized care group reported better quality of life, less severity of the tinnitus, and decreased impairment compared to the usual-care group.

Many had dropped out of each group. In all, 161 finished all 12 months of the usual care; 171 completed the combined approach.

Ideally, Cima says, the patients can keep using the skills learned in the program. If they have remission, they can return for more treatment, she says.

Information on costs is not yet available, she says.

Tinnitus Treatments: Expert Opinions

While the treatments used in the new study have been around for decades, the new research documents that it works in a scientific way, says William Martin, PhD, director of the Tinnitus Clinic and Tinnitus Research at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

"It's not groundbreaking," he says of the combination approach, "but it is an important step in terms of documenting how we should be approaching these poor people."

"The important message here in this study is, there are no shortcuts in managing tinnitus," he tells WebMD. "You have to treat the whole person. It's not just an ear issue."

"In our clinic, we find several things that impede the recovery process," Martin says. "Insomnia, anxiety, and depression. When you bring in a cognitive therapist, you provide an opportunity to address those issues in the context of the tinnitus."

"We have a whole crew we work with," he says. In addition to audiology professionals, they get help from other health professionals, including psychiatrists, as needed.

Martin says only a few U.S. centers offer such a comprehensive approach.

Another expert says the study is well-designed, but he takes a dimmer view of the findings. "There's nothing new in what's happening here," says Richard Tyler, PhD, professor of audiology at the University of Iowa and an expert in the field.

Cima's approach, with input from psychologists, he says, "would be hard to do in the States because there are not that many psychologists who are familiar with tinnitus."

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