Approaches to Tinnitus Management and Treatment

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Tinnitus continues to challenge patients from all walks of life and clinicians from a variety of disciplines. The lack of an evidence base to support a specific treatment confounds efforts to provide consistent benefit to patients and in many instances creates in the patient the impression that nothing can be done to improve their situation. Part of the problem is that although patients rarely experience complete elimination of a tinnitus signal, they often experience relief when receiving effective counseling, specific coping strategies, and sound therapy. Although in most clinical activities the tinnitus remains (i.e., it is not cured), its influence may wane as the patient learns to manage their environment, activities, and ultimately their response to tinnitus. At the same time, several medical interventions target reduction of the tinnitus sound, an approach more consistent with what patients expect as a cure. Therefore, the majority of clinical activity directed at care for patients with tinnitus typically targets either elimination of the tinnitus sound (tinnitus treatment) or modification of the patient's response to the sound (tinnitus management). This review distinguishes and offers examples of both treatment and management programs employed clinically for patients with tinnitus.