Duke treatment offers tinnitus relief

Source: The News & Observer, By Sarah Avery, Staff Writer

It drives people nuts.

Ringing. Buzzing. Hissing.

For people with tinnitus, a phantom sound only they can hear plagues their every waking moment. Imagine a Salvation Army bell ringer camped out in your head every day, all day.

Despite afflicting an estimated 50 million people in the United States, often as a result of injury or repeated exposure to loud noises, the condition has no cures and few effective treatments, though a newer approach is now available at Duke University.

The intervention, called Neuromonics, retrains people to manage how they hear the internal sound. But it’s not covered by insurance and is expensive – about $4,500 for a device that resembles a portable music player and for sessions with an audiologist to tailor the treatment.

Teri Kim, 48, of Cary, NC started the therapy in August, and almost quit a month into it when she still hadn’t gotten relief from the high-pitched whine that has blared in her head for years. Then she gradually began having good days and even good weeks as the whine began to diminish.

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