Finally, a treatment for that buzzing in your ears
May 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Finally, a treatment for that buzzing in your ears

Imagine the incessant, grating sound of buzzing in your ears - or constant beeping, whistling, dripping, or clicking.  Imagine the chatter of crickets or birds resonating in your head all day long.

Then realize that there are no actual birds or crickets. No dripping faucet. No clicking or whistling happening in the vicinity.

That is a small glimpse of life with tinnitus:  The perception of sound, that doesn't exist, manufactured by the brain.  

"I hear tree frogs and crickets and bugs, and really loud noise on top of that," said Ginny Morrell, 60, who has suffered with tinnitus for two years. "It started one day and never went away. It never wavers, 24 hours a day."

Morrell says she fills her life with sound - a radio during the day, a television droning in the background while she sleeps - as a way to drown out the din.  It's a distraction that sometimes works.

"It's not going to kill me, it's not cancer," said Morrell.  "But it might drive me crazy."

But according to a new study, the most effective treatment for Morrell's tinnitus may involve just the opposite of what she's currently doing: Rather than ignoring the sound, focus on it.

"In the study we thought, what if we try to intervene in this avoidance behavior and we expose patients to their tinnitus sounds," said Rilana Cima, the study's lead author and a clinical psychologist at Adelante Centre of Expertise in Rehabilitation and Audiology in the Netherlands.  "If you expose people to something they're afraid of, they actually habituate to this stimulation."

Cima compares the approach, which has its roots in cognitive behavioral therapy, to helping people with a spider phobia to slowly stem that fear.  Intermittent exposure to a spider - or in the case of tinnitus, that annoying buzzing - may temper the fear associated with it.

The study, conducted in the Netherlands, involved 492 patients. Half received an audiological work-up and no other structured treatment, while the other half received integrated care, including tinnitus-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. 

The therapy included having patients perform mundane, everyday tasks, while being exposed to whatever sound is associated with their tinnitus. 

"People usually avoid their own sound," said Cima.  "So they practice paying attention to their sound and what reactions they're having because of that sound."

Among the group who got the therapy, about 70% reported improvements in their quality of life or decreased tinnitus a year after beginning treatment. 

Importantly, for a malady that has its roots in the brain, many patients also reported improvements in tinnitus-related fear and anxiety. 

"The sound didn't disappear but fear reactions did," said Cima.

What makes tinnitus so difficult to treat is that it is virtually impossible to pinpoint the origin of the sound (there is no established neural origin for the condition) and each sufferer's experience is unique.  That makes it difficult to craft a treatment that works for everyone.

The study, published today in the Lancet, is one of the first rigorous trials suggesting relief for the approximately 50 million tinnitus sufferers in the U.S., according to the American Tinnitus Association.

Richard Salvi, a tinnitus expert with the Center for Hearing & Deafness at the University of Buffalo, said the study is important and should be encouraging for people like Morrell.  But, he adds, most tinnitus sufferers are looking for a cure.

"Many tinnitus patients expect immediate and complete cessation of their tinnitus," said Salvi in an email to CNN.  "None of the current treatments meet these patient expectations. Consequently, much more work needs to be done."

Morrell is heartened that a treatment may be out there but, from where she sits in small-town Brockton, Massachusetts, it seems elusive.  She says few physicians in her area understand her condition, let alone how to treat it using cognitive behavioral therapy.

"I had one doctor say to me I should take Klonopin (an anti-seizure/anti-anxiety medication) for my tinnitus," said Morrell.  "He said to take one the first day, two the second, and to keep stepping it up to 12 a day if I needed to. Can you believe that?"

What nags Morrell almost as much as her condition, is the fear associated with it - that it will get worse. 

Mostly, she wants something simple that she used to take for granted:  "My issue with it is not hearing silence," she said.  "I will never hear silence again."

What Morrell craves is a reset button that will make the noise disappear. 

Curing tinnitus may never be that simple.

soundoff (3,065 Responses)
  1. dog groomers near me


    June 18, 2021 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bicycle shops near me


    June 18, 2021 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. denny's near me


    June 18, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. vaoroi

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Coi Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Namket qua bong da asiad 2019Đây có lẽ là trường hợp “của đi thay cho nhân viên" khá may mắn đối cùng với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã được thể gặp tai nạn nguy hiểm. Cập nhật kết quả trận nước ta vs Lebanon thuộc play-off vòng chủng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.


    June 18, 2021 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. laptop repair near me


    June 18, 2021 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ross near me

    Your style is unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    June 18, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. jewelry stores near me

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover an individual who genuinely knows what they're discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people need to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Uzbekistan tour

    Best tours to Uzbekistan


    June 18, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. check cashing near me

    I absolutely love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my very own blog and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Kudos!


    June 18, 2021 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. in n out near me


    June 18, 2021 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. appomannoni

    prostate cancer erectile dysfunction kayamy erectile medicine for men
    erectile function questionnaire slilicy solutions erectile dysfunction
    erectile supplements that work sicAdofs erectile disorder symptoms

    June 18, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. gas stations near me


    June 18, 2021 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. gun stores near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. american restaurants near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. optometrist near me

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. watch repair near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. storage near me


    June 18, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sih

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to far added agreeable from
    you! By the way, how could we communicate?

    June 18, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Nearby

    I was more than happy to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to check out new stuff on your website.


    June 18, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Repair California

    Can I just say what a comfort to uncover an individual who really understands what they're talking about online. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people really need to look at this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you are not more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. kenh htv3 truc tuyen

    Tỷ Số Soccer Trực Tuyến Thời Điểm Hôm Naytrực tuyến vtv1Theo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania trong ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới cho futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội ko ngán Lebanon song sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, bạn hoàn toàn có thể chuẩn bị xếp làm việc


    June 18, 2021 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Camper Repair Places Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 18, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 18, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    Howdy! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have here on this post. I will be returning to your web site for more soon.


    June 18, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Repair Shop

    After checking out a handful of the articles on your web page, I truly like your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know what you think.


    June 18, 2021 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    Hello there! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you've got here on this post. I will be returning to your website for more soon.


    June 18, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Repair Mission Viejo


    June 18, 2021 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. appomannoni

    erectile dysfunction pump kayamy erectile enhancement pills
    erectile organs pha slilicy erectile disorder dsm v
    does erectile dysfunction end sicAdofs erectile function index 5

    June 18, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair California


    June 18, 2021 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Nearby

    Can I simply say what a relief to find a person that really understands what they are talking about on the web. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people should check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular since you certainly possess the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 18, 2021 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 18, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. walgreens near me


    June 18, 2021 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Orange County California

    Good info. Lucky me I ran across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!


    June 18, 2021 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 18, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Nearby RV Repair


    June 18, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 18, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    You are so awesome! I do not think I have read through anything like that before. So nice to find someone with a few genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!


    June 18, 2021 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 18, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. appomannoni

    erectile pills in canada kayamy is erectile dysfunction covered by medicare
    buy erectile dysfunction pills online india slilicy erectile function restored after turp
    erectile herbs and vitamins sicAdofs erectile dysfunction reviews

    June 18, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Shop

    I was very happy to uncover this site. I need to to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new things in your website.


    June 19, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 19, 2021 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. computer store near me

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you bookmarked to look at new things you postÖ


    June 19, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 19, 2021 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 19, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Shop Near My Location


    June 19, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. aldi near me

    I like it when people come together and share ideas. Great site, continue the good work!


    June 19, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Leave a Reply to collision center of temecula temecula ca


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.