DETROIT (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Fifty million people live every day with ringing in their ears. It's called tinnitus, and there is no cure. A new treatment could silence the ringing and give thousands of sufferers relief.
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Dentist George Magulak has been cleaning teeth and filling cavities for 27 years. He spends 200 days a year at the office. That's about 54,000 mouths he's seen up close in his career.
"I have never looked back," Dr. Magulak told Ivanhoe. "For me, it's been everything I hoped a career would be."
Dr. Magulak was working when he heard a sudden pop in his right ear.
"[It was] a classic pop, like a Walt Disney pop," Dr. Magulak said.
That's when the ringing began.
"Maybe if you lost the picture in the old TVs and you heard that white noise," Dr. Magulak said.
George lost his hearing in one ear and now suffers from tinnitus. It's considered more than just an auditory condition. Tinnitus is also neurological because when hearing loss occurs, the brain compensates by internally producing sound. It's also considered a psychological condition because of the stress caused by the constant ringing. There's no known cure, but now audiologists are silencing Dr. Magulak's tinnitus using sound.
"It has soothing music in it matching the resting heart rate," Karrie Slominski, Au.D., an audiologist at Henry Ford Medical Center in Clinton, Mich., told Ivanhoe.h
FDA-approved neuromonics sound therapy stimulates the brain to filter out the tinnitus sound.
"There's an underlying shower sound in it to help the patients get immediate relief from the ringing so that they can go about their daily business," Dr. Slominski said.
The ringing then becomes background noise and not so disturbing. Patients wear the device from two to four hours a day. After six months of treatment, the latest clinical trials show significant symptom reduction for 91 percent of patients.
"I noticed right away," Dr. Magulak said. "It was immediate."
Although he still hears ringing, Dr. Magulak says it's much quieter now and it doesn't interrupt his life or his work -- and if he needs it, he knows where to go to get some relief.
The neuromonics device is only available through prescription and costs about $5,000. Insurance companies don't cover the cost because they consider tinnitus treatments experimental.
The Acoustical Society of America contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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