Reports say despite the fact that tinnitus is a very distressing condition, not enough is being done to support patients who experience the problem, according to an extensive research review.
As many as one in seven people will experience tinnitus, or ringing in their ears, at some time of their life, but most patients are told that nothing can be done to ease the condition.
"Despite the fact that it is a very distressing condition and can affect people's lifestyle and quality of life, around 94 percent of patients are simply told that nothing can be done to alleviate the condition," says Professor Susan Holmes from Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, UK.
"Tinnitus is a widespread condition that affects millions of people across the world and there is considerable debate about its causes. The condition, which can be permanent or temporary and acute or chronic, increases with age and can also occur after bereavement or during stressful periods.
"It is sometimes referred to as a 'phantom sensation' as the sound - often a high-pitched noise with mechanical, electrical or musical qualities - is experienced in the absence of external stimuli," Holmes added.
Holmes collaborated with Nigel Padgham, an ear nose and throat surgery specialist from Kent and Canterbury Hospital, to conduct an extensive research review of nearly 150 papers published since 1983.
This showed that although considerable research has been carried out on the subject, nurses - who are often the first people patients turn to - have received very little guidance or information on the condition.
"We believe that affected patients need considerable support and advice on healthcare options, encouragement to try different treatments and recognition that help and hope are available," Holmes said.
"Though patients may have to learn to live with tinnitus, the most important thing is that they recognize that help is available," Holmes added.
The research review appears in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.