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Tinnitus May Drive Some to the Brink of Suicide

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Imagine a ringing in your ears so intense and unrelenting that you become desperate enough to try to kill yourself.

That is a reality for some — women in particular — who suffer from severe tinnitus, new research shows.

The survey of 72,000 Swedish adults found that 9% of women who suffered from severe tinnitus had attempted suicide, as had 5.5% of men.

After analyzing the data, European researchers found that the association between ringing ears and risk for attempted suicide was only significant for women.

“It is important to say that an increased risk of suicide attempts does not mean an increased risk in suicide events,” said lead researcher Christopher Cederroth, from the laboratory of experimental audiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Also, only an association and not a cause-and-effect link was observed.

Cederroth added that he isn’t aware of any completed suicides related to tinnitus.

“Our results reflect more the sex-specific psychological impact of tinnitus rather than a risk of committing suicide,” he said.

On the plus side, Cederroth said that the risk for suicide isn’t significant for people who have had their tinnitus treated.

“Medical attention by a specialist may help decrease tinnitus-related distress,” he said. “Even though there are currently no treatments to get rid of tinnitus, seeing a specialist may help decrease the distress and diminish the risk of suicide attempts.”

Dr. Darius Kohan, director of otology/neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital and the Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City, reviewed the study. He said that although the cause of most tinnitus isn’t known, ways to help people cope with the condition are available.

“Tinnitus can be very severe and debilitating,” Kohan said, noting that it’s a very common condition, affecting about 20% of the population. He isn’t sure why the association between tinnitus and suicide risk appears more serious in women than men. Perhaps it’s just the way the study was done, he said.

“It’s old age and degeneration of the blood supply to the inner ear, plus hearing loss as the nerve cells die off,” said Kohan. In addition, stress, caffeine and aspirin can cause tinnitus, he said.

Continued

Treatment usually involves helping people cope with the condition, Kohan said. Treatments can include cutting out caffeine and aspirin and also taking supplements such as ginkgo biloba or B vitamins.

In addition, patients can use various devices to provide a background sound to mask the ringing in their ears. These can include white noise generators, an air conditioner, or even the TV, Kohan said. This can be especially effective at night when tinnitus can be at its worst.

Other treatments that may work are acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy, Kohan said. Patients can be taught to ignore the sound. Some patients may also need antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, he added.

Richard Tyler, an audiologist and professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Iowa, said that most insurance doesn’t cover treatment for tinnitus.

“It certainly is true that many tinnitus sufferers have severe problems with thoughts and emotions, hearing, sleep and concentration,” Tyler said. “Unfortunately, there is no reimbursement to the hearing health care field for counseling and sound therapy. This is a major obstacle.”

The report was published online May 2 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Christopher Cederroth, Ph.D., laboratory of experimental audiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Darius Kohan, M.D., director, otology/neurotology, Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital, New York City; Richard Tyler, Ph.D., audiologist and professor, department of communication sciences and disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City; May 2, 2019,JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

The ‘Love Hormone’ May Quiet Tinnitus

Small, preliminary study suggests oxytocin might ease ‘ringing in the ears’

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People suffering from chronic ringing in the ears — called tinnitus — may find some relief by spraying the hormone oxytocin in their nose, a small initial study by Brazilian researchers suggests.

Oxytocin — dubbed the “love hormone” because it promotes social connections — might also help relieve the annoying and sometimes disturbing noises of tinnitus.

“Oxytocin has actions in the brain and the ear that may help in tinnitus treatment and provide immediate relief,” said lead researcher Dr. Andreia Azevedo. She is with the department of otolaryngology at the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.

But, at least one hearing specialist was unconvinced that oxytocin would help.

And, even Azevedo said it isn’t clear how oxytocin might work to relieve tinnitus. She speculated that it may have an effect in the ear, probably related to fluid regulation in the inner ear, and a brain effect that may be related to the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

“For some patients, tinnitus disappeared or reached a non-distress level,” Azevedo said. “As usual in tinnitus treatment, in some patients the tinnitus kept low, and for some it raised after drug therapy ended.”

Although oxytocin appeared safe, its long-term effects aren’t known, Azevedo said. “We did not have any side effects, but further larger studies are necessary to establish the role of oxytocin in tinnitus treatment,” she added.

The research team is conducting additional studies to see if increasing doses of oxytocin can improve and lengthen the response.

“We expect that these trials will raise the interest in this drug and result in larger randomized trials,” Azevedo said.

The results of the study were scheduled to be presented Thursday at the meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery in San Diego. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

As many as one in 10 Americans suffers from tinnitus. The disorder is characterized by hearing sounds when there are none. The sounds can be perceived as ringing, buzzing, crickets or hissing. For those who struggle with it daily, the noise is so bothersome that it interferes with thinking, emotions, hearing, sleep and concentration, according to a previously published study. That study was released online July 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

WebMD Health

Tick in Man’s Ear Gives Him Tinnitus

FRIDAY Sept. 21, 2012 — When a 63-year-old man went to a hospital in Switzerland to report a buzzing in his ear, the staff got more than they bargained for when they looked inside. A tick was attached to his eardrum, and it possibly got there with the help of a friendly feline.

The man is fine now that the tick has been removed, according to a brief report in the Sept. 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. While it’s uncommon for ticks to make their way into the ear canal, emergency physicians say insects do make appearances in this fragile orifice.

“Insects in the ear are relatively common so this case is not very surprising,” said Dr. Donald Keamy Jr., a pediatric otolaryngologist — ear, nose and throat doctor — at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. “A case report like this is likely one of many other cases that were not reported.”

The report said the man visited a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, while suffering from itching and “bubbling tinnitus,” a kind of buzzing, in the ear. “Technically, this is not the typical high-pitched noise that is heard by patients with hearing loss,” said Keamy, who was not involved with the case.

An evaluation of his right ear revealed that a tick had attached itself to the eardrum. The tick had probably caused the buzzing sound through its contact with the eardrum, Keamy explained.

The tick species is a type that’s often found on cats in Europe.

The hospital removed the tick by numbing the man’s ear and then using a suction device to suck it out. The tick can spread Lyme disease, but tests later revealed that the man didn’t get infected; he recovered without further problems.

How did a tick manage to get in the man’s ear in the first place? “On review,” the report stated, “the patient remembered having had close contact with his domestic cat the evening before the symptoms began.”

Keamy said the tick could have bitten the man inside his ear, but probably wouldn’t have caused permanent damage.

Dr. Michael Lanigan, an attending physician in emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, offered this advice for people who live in or visit places where ticks live: “The best way to prevent tick-borne disease is to check yourself and others — particularly your children — for ticks frequently.”

Keamy added that it’s smart to wear long-sleeved clothing while you’re in wooded areas where ticks live. Treating your dog or cat to keep ticks at bay is another good idea, he said. “If you believe you have had a tick bite,” he said, “see your primary care physician to discuss possible antibiotic treatment.”

More information

For more on tick bites, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Posted: September 2012

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Tinnitus Relief: Therapy Mix Helps Ringing in Ears

Combining Parts of Sound Retraining and Talk Therapy Can Give Relief

May 24, 2012 — Combining parts of two established treatments for tinnitus in a new way can work, according to new research.

Tinnitus is a persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears that can be debilitating.

Researcher Rilana Cima of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and colleagues used parts of sound-based retraining therapy and talk therapy in what they say is a unique way.

This approach worked better than usual care, they found.

“This was very effective in decreasing tinnitus severity, distress, and impact on daily life and general health,” Cima tells WebMD.

The study is published in The Lancet.

Two U.S. experts had mixed reaction to the study. One said the new research adds scientific credibility to the two approaches. Another said there is not much new in the study.

Tinnitus: Back Story

About 50 million people in the U.S. experience tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association. About 2% of the population has tinnitus so severe their quality of life is impaired.

Those with tinnitus perceive a sound when no external source of sound exists. They may describe the condition as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or whooshing in the ears. It can affect one or both ears.

Most often, noise exposure leads to tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association. It can be a single extreme noise or the accumulated result of noise over time.

Another known cause of tinnitus is a head or neck injury.

Typically, many different treatments are offered, but with little evidence of effectiveness.

Often, says Cima, a doctor will tell a patient with tinnitus: “Nothing more can be done; you have to learn to live with it.”

In severe cases, patients can become depressed and unable to work or socialize.

Tinnitus: Combining Treatments

Cima assigned 247 patients with tinnitus to usual care and 245 to the specialized care.

Those in the usual care were seen by an audiologist to start. If the audiologist thought they also needed a social worker, the audiologist would refer them.

Those in specialized care got a combination of audiology and psychology treatments. The team included many health care providers, such as psychologists and other therapists.

In typical tinnitus retraining therapy, counseling sessions and exposure to a neutral external sound are used, Cima says.

“A sound generator is prescribed to patients,” Cima says. “It generates a sound. The theory is that by listening to this masking sound the patients will [get used] to it, as well as to their tinnitus.”

However, what is new, Cima tells WebMD, is that they combined the audiological and psychological treatments within a behavioral framework. In her approach, the behavioral intervention and the sound intervention are carried out at the same time.

“We believe that not the sound itself but the reactions (fear and misinterpretations) to this sound determine whether or not people will develop complaints,” she says.

She focuses on modifying the reactions to the sounds. Patients often want to avoid the tinnitus, she says. They do this by not wanting to stay in silent environments, for instance.

“I say often to patients: ‘In order to [get used] to your tinnitus, you have to be willing to perceive your tinnitus.'”

After that first step, those with more severe tinnitus went on to a second step, which included group treatment with a variety of therapists.

WebMD Health

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