Robert Cooper is finally getting help for that annoying sound in his head.
He's being tested to find just how much ringing there is. Robert first noticed it two years ago when heard a sound that he describes as crickets in the forest.
"It is quite annoying,” Robert said. “It's difficult to concentrate. It's affected my sleep so I felt I needed to get some help."
An estimated 25 million Americans suffer--to some degree--with ringing in the ears and more are expected because of the ear-bud boom and soldiers returning from war.
Now a new study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands finds that patient who got specialized care--including audiologists, speech therapists and physical therapists--had better outcomes than patients who underwent standard therapy.
The specialized patients managed the ringing sound better which improved their quality of life.
Dr. Kenneth Pugh is an audiologist at the UT Dallas Callier Center in Dallas, TX. Dr. Pugh said progress is being made but a cure hasn't been found.
"The one thing that we tell patients in terms of taking it away so that you never experience it again, I don't think anyone is bold enough to step out there and say that just yet," Dr. Pugh said.
But there are baby steps--including ear pieces that reduce the ringing sound, referrals to psychologists and something called cognitive behavior therapy.
Dr. Pugh said there are promising clinical trials but managing the ringing is now the best they can do.
"There are some things that you can do to help,” Dr. Pugh said. “I think that helping to address it is better than not helping at all."
Doctors tweaked Robert’s ear-pieces which he hopes will help him sleep better and concentrate at work.
Back in the day he used to play in a band and listen to loud music.
If he'd only heard about tinnitus back then.
"I would be more careful protecting my hearing," Robert said.