What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is an abnormal perception of a sound reported by a patient but is unrelated to an external source of stimulation. Tinnitus is a very common disorder affecting over 50 million people in the United States. It may be intermittent, constant or fluctuant, mild or severe, and may vary from a low roaring sensation to a high pitched type of sound. It is often referred to as ‘ringing in the ears,’ although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. Its’ perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud. It may or may not be associated with a hearing loss. It is also classified further into subjective tinnitus (a noise perceived by the patient alone) or objective (a noise perceived by the patient as well as by another listener). Subjective tinnitus is common; however, objective tinnitus is relatively uncommon. The location of tinnitus may be in the ear(s) and/or in the head.
How many people have it? 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree. Of these, about 12 million have tinnitus which is severe enough to seek medical attention. Of those, about two million patients are so seriously debilitated by their tinnitus, they cannot function on a ‘normal,’ day-to-day basis.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The exact cause (or causes) of tinnitus is not known in every case. There are, however, several likely factors which may cause tinnitus or make existing tinnitus worse: noise-induced hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, certain medications, ear or sinus infections, age-related hearing loss, ear diseases and disorders, jaw misalignment, cardiovascular disease, certain types of tumors, thyroid disorders, head and neck trauma and many others. Of these factors, exposure to loud noises and hearing loss are the most common causes of tinnitus. Treating a hearing loss, either by medical management, if indicated, or with hearing aids, may offer relief of tinnitus 70% of the time. Neuromonics and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy are effective tinnitus treatments with proven success rates of 85%. If you have tinnitus, a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist, and a medical evaluation by an otologist is recommended.
Click here to learn more about Neuromonics.
Is There a Cure?
There is currently no cure for tinnitus. We will work with you to identify potential causes for your specific symptoms, and there may be a way to reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life. In some instances, changes to your diet or medications may help with your symptoms. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, can also help alleviate the constant ringing in your ears.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?
Diagnostic testing and an evaluation by an otologist will rule out possible medical factors that could be causing or contributing to your tinnitus. Because your tinnitus symptoms are personal and unique in nature, an in-depth evaluation will help us create a specialized treatment plan for you.
Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, our audiologists have the knowledge and experience to provide you with treatment methods that can help lessen the impact that tinnitus has on your life. In many cases, the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with AGX® Hearing technology.
The No. 1 treatment for tinnitus for those who also experience hearing loss is the use of a personal hearing system, which can improve your hearing and often reduce or eliminate your perception of tinnitus. There are a number of treatment options, including:
AGX Hearing Technology: The top treatment for those who experience hearing loss, which can both improve overall hearing ability and eliminate the perception of ringing.
Masking: An electronic device called a masker may be worn to distract from the ringing sensation. Maskers fit in the ear similarly to hearing aids and produce low-level sounds. In addition, bedside sound generators and other devices can also help remove the perception of ringing.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: A therapeutic process in which we specialize, and has given relief to many of our patients. Our process is a combination of sound therapy and counseling, which alters the brain’s neural signals and weakens the perception of tinnitus, allowing you to live your daily life far more peacefully.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A type of counseling that helps to change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and helping to relieve stress.