DEAR ABBY: How would you like to be one of 44 million people in the United States with a loud screeching, roaring, whistling, ringing or chirping in your head? Can you imagine going to a doctor and being told: "You have tinnitus. There is nothing I can do for you. You'll have to learn to live with it." This is the answer millions of tinnitus sufferers hear repeatedly.
In 1993, a loud ringing sound began in one of my ears. It was driving me crazy and made it impossible to sleep. I became stressed out and depressed. It was impossible to continue to work because I was always tired. Not a single doctor could help.
Finally, one doctor referred me to a local American Tinnitus Association (ATA) support group. When I called, they gave me immediate assistance, empathetic care and understanding, and helpful information which led me to realize that I could manage this condition and lead a productive life.
The ATA was founded in 1971. It publishes a magazine, "Tinnitus Today," that keeps its members up-to-date on the latest research and treatments for tinnitus. In addition, it sponsors research, testifies before Congress to encourage more research and has support groups all over the United States.
Thank you, Abby, for spreading the word. -- JOHN NICHOLS, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
DEAR JOHN: I have mentioned the Tinnitus Association before, and I'm pleased to do it again. Until recently, there was no help for people afflicted with tinnitus. However, a number of procedures such as sound "masking," drug therapies, biofeedback and tinnitus retraining therapy now exist that can bring relief to some tinnitus sufferers.
For more information about the ATA, call (toll-free) 1-800-634-8978, or write: The American Tinnitus Association, P.O. Box 5, Portland, Ore. 97207-0005.