There’s a song from my teenage years that has something to say about tinnitus research in the present day: “Reasons To Be Cheerful pt 3” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcjh1a9Yoao).

I was too much of a punk purist for it to make an impact at the time,  but now when it comes on the radio I’ll happily sing along. The song lyrics are essentially a list of ‘reasons to be cheerful’ from Buddy Holly to Dali to John Coltrane. I’d like to reflect on what the reasons to be cheerful about tinnitus research are at the present time. By doing so I do not mean to minimise the relentless burden and distress some people have with their tinnitus: rather to look at the several, perhaps many, indications of sustained effort on tinnitus research, and the progress that it being made.

Firstly, the research is now full spectrum, by which I mean that it ranges from basic neuroscience research, into mechanisms, into work on impact and lived experience, and then into clinically and cost effective treatments for tinnitus.

Second, tinnitus research is now international and collaborative, when once it was parochial and competitive. Only if and when tinnitus researchers work together, in support of and sharing with each other will we make substantial progress.

Also, tinnitus research is now becoming innovative and creative. Investigating the same old themes gave researchers same old answers, but now people are looking elsewhere. I don’t know if new techniques such as EMDR will hold promise for tinnitus: I do know that we won’t find out without research.  Some work that I am involved in is looking for pathways in the brain that have previously been undiscovered: what might they tell us about tinnitus? https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/blog/unique-btaacademic-partnership-formed-to-conduct-innovative-tinnitus-research

Finally, tinnitus research is now high profile. The recent meeting at the House of Commons (Jan 2020), a recent networking dinner at the very high level Association of Research in Otolaryngology meeting in the USA in partnership with the American Tinnitus Association are two up to the minute indications that tinnitus research is finally gaining a decent profile and traction upon funding agencies.

So, reasons to be cheerful, or as I often say in clinic, to be cautiously optimisitic  about tinnitus. I am encouraged and I hope that you are too!