Friday 3 February 2012

Expert raises 'urgent need' for new treatment ahead of Tinnitus Awareness Week

Tinnitus Awareness Week
Tinnitus Awareness Week

It is vitally important that we highlight the need for an effective therapy option.
Professor Deb Hall, Nottingham Trent University

Tinnitus treatment is still not good enough, according to a leading expert on the condition on the eve of Tinnitus Awareness Week (February 6-12). Professor Deb Hall, who is based at Nottingham Trent University, says there is an ‘urgent need’ for more effective therapies for the condition.

Professor Hall has undertaken research which shows the vast majority of physicians are not satisfied with the current treatment for tinnitus, which is associated with a ringing in the ears and affects more than one in ten people. Her study – led by Nottingham Trent University and commissioned by Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH – revealed that in the UK, 86% of general practitioners and 76% of ear, nose and throat specialists, are unhappy with the available treatment.

Researchers found that a quarter of GPs (25%) and more than a third of ENT specialists (36%) were completely dissatisfied – the lowest possible rating – with the treatment. Just two per cent of GPs and ENT specialists were completely happy.

A lack of effectiveness was the most common reason for their frustration – for chronic tinnitus, where the condition has persisted for at least six months, UK GPs rated treatment as successful in fewer than one in three cases (31%) compared with 57% of ENTs. For the less common acute tinnitus, which may last just days or weeks, GPs rated just 37% of treatments a success, rising to 61% for ENTs.

Despite being so widespread, the causes of tinnitus remain poorly understood; there is no cure, nor are there any licensed medications for alleviating the symptoms. The most common approaches rely on education, acoustic devices such as hearing aids and noise generators, psychological therapy and complementary treatments such as acupuncture.

The study was the first coordinated and major international effort to fully understand the services available for the millions of tinnitus sufferers across the world.

Professor Hall, who is based in the university’s School of Social Sciences, said: "Our results show that the healthcare systems and treatment options for tinnitus vary widely, but it is very disappointing to hear that no matter where you are in the world there are very low success rates which lead to frustration of both physicians and patients. It is vitally important that we highlight the need for an effective therapy option.

"Hopefully, these results will raise people's awareness to the plight of those millions who live with tinnitus every day of their lives."

This year’s Tinnitus Awareness Week, run by the British Tinnitus Association, is campaigning to raise awareness of tinnitus in primary care.

Notes to editors:

For more on Tinnitus Awareness Week visit the British Tinnitus Association website.

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