How much attention does tinnitus get from medical researchers? ‘Not enough!’ is the simple answer. Nevertheless, a search of thousands of medical journals reveals that there is a little more going on than one might think.

An internet search tool (called ‘Scopus’) shows that typically about half a dozen new research papers about tinnitus are published every week. In a column in a quarterly magazine it isn’t possible to write a summary of all of them. We’ve taken the decision to focus on studies in which patients with tinnitus have received treatments. Researchers continue to look at other important questions – such as who gets tinnitus; how is it diagnosed, classified and assessed; and what exactly is going on in the brain when tinnitus occurs – but these studies will not be considered in this column.

We look for treatment studies that have produced ‘high quality’ evidence. What does that mean? When a treatment is given to just one or two people with no comparison group and no agreed method of assessing their symptoms has been used, then the results (while they may be interesting) do not tell us very much. We are on the lookout for larger well-conducted, properly assessed studies, particularly those that are randomised controlled trials (RCTs). In these trials patients are chosen at random to receive a treatment or no treatment (or standard care) and their tinnitus is assessed before and after the treatment has been introduced.

We hope the studies that we briefly summarise in this section are of interest and we include the details of the specialist journals where the full papers appear for those who wish to try to find out more.