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The buzz on tinnitus

Updated: Wednesday, Sep 02,2009, 2:06:18 PM
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For those who suffer from chronic tinnitus, the infuriating ringing in the ears that plagues millions of people, they may have trouble working, sleeping and going about their daily lives.


"The noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both of your ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it interferes with your ability to concentrate or hear properly."

"Tinnitus is one of the most common hearing disorders in the world. Those who suffer from it hear buzzing or ringing sounds that cannot be blocked out," explains Dr Long Chin Wan, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon.

Dr Long explains that there are many causes of tinnitus.

"In a lot of the cases, tinnitus is connected with age-related hearing loss, but it is also caused by frequent or sudden exposure to loud noise, ear wax, ear injury, ear infections, certain medications, tumours or frequently for no apparent reason," he says.

"It is important to realise that the hearing system is one of the most delicate and sensitive mechanisms in the body but unfortunately, many people are unconcerned about the harmful effects of excessively loud noise and high intensity music."

He says that the condition affects most people at some point in their lives. In many cases it is not a serious problem, but rather a nuisance that may in time go away. More often than not, patients are told to "learn to live with it".

But for the five per cent of the population for whom this condition becomes chronic and debilitating, their quality of life is radically affected.

"Imagine every single sound you hear (someone speaking, music, phone calls, silence, TV) filtered through a crackle, a buzzing, or a ringing barrier," he describes. "Some people are afflicted so severely that they cannot lead normal lives."

For those with chronic, persistent tinnitus, a new treatment called Tinnitus Phase-Out (TPO) could be their answer to eliminating that awful noise.

Available for the first time in Asia, Dr Long describes TPO as a relay station that will help to reduce the noise the patient hears.

By listening to the therapeutic sound pattern through headphones for just 30 minutes, three times a week, the patient will be able to obtain relief from their tinnitus on an on-going basis.

According to a research study presented at the 8th International Tinnitus Seminar in Pau, France in September 2005, this method demonstrated an 82 per cent success rate in treating patients with persistent tinnitus.

Patients will have the option of buying their personalised programmed device for home treatment.

The TPO machine will cost anywhere between RM3,000 and RM4,000. It is non-invasive and easy to use but more importantly, it never requires patients to wear any device or apparatus in public.


Tags: Tinnitus

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