In this medical video learn how millions of Americans live with a constant ringing in their ears. Learn how doctors are finding ways to quiet the noise.
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Jennifer Matthews: Every second of every day, Joyce LaJeunesse has ringing in her right ear. Joyce LaJeunesse: Just kind of a humming, like an electrical humming, and it's constant. Jennifer Matthews: The ringing, called tinnitus, came on suddenly five years ago. Joyce LaJeunesse: I truly did expect it to go away just figured it was something connected with the ear plugging up or something Jennifer Matthews: But it stuck around and now follows her everywhere. Joyce LaJeunesse: I hear it right now while we are talking. Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Jay Piccirillo says at least 50 million Americans have tinnitus. Jay Piccirillo: There is no drug that we can give them. There is no surgery that we can do or device that we can put in the ear to cure the tinnitus. Jennifer Matthews: But there is help for people with sleep problems as a result of their tinnitus. A new study shows melatonin lessens the ringing and significantly improves sleep. Jay Piccirillo: I would definitely think that patients with tinnitus who are having problems sleeping should consider melatonin. Jennifer Matthews: Another small study shows injecting Botox around the ear might also help. Dr. Piccirillo is also studying a procedure called transcranial magnetic stimulation where a magnetic device stimulates certain areas in the brain. Early studies are promising. Joyce was in a study on melatonin to help the ringing and her sleep. Joyce LaJeunesse: I had more energy in the mornings. I woke up more refreshed than I had been, and that was wonderful. Jennifer Matthews: Dr. Piccirillo says other sufferers could easily get the same benefit, since melatonin is available over-the-counter. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.