What’s the Buzz? Treatment Strategies in Chronic Subjective Tinnitus

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For a large percentage of the population, chronic subjective tinnitus is a significant variable in the evaluation of quality of life. The condition is not completely understood and often displays features unique to the individual. Much of the initial response to research linking tinnitus with shared pathways typical for chronic pain, anxiety, and depression has resulted in pharmacotherapeutic management that is not always warranted—or successful.

Clinical research into the pathophysiology of tinnitus is providing a better understanding of the neurophysiologic mechanisms that underpin the science of chronic tinnitus. With this information, researchers can one day design medical management that targets specific receptors, resulting in greater management success.

The psychologic impact of tinnitus cannot be underestimated. When almost one-third of patients complain of debilitating symptoms that can also result in neurocognitive decline, tinnitus becomes a condition that cannot be ignored. Guidelines set forth by the AAO–HNS state that CBT and TRT offer some reprieve from symptoms and teach patients habituation without further damage to hearing. The use of broad-based sound generators has been well established as a useful management tool, although it is not curative.

The limitations of some studies that reviewed alternative medicines include small sample size and difficulty comparing research analysis because of disparities in tinnitus rating scales. Also, age bias, comorbid conditions, and study drop-out rates affected overall statistical significance of some studies. Additional, high-quality research is warranted in this area.

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