Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of perceiving a ringing, buzzing or whooshing noise in the absence of an external sound source. This is typically only experienced by the person with tinnitus and has a variety of different causes.
Treating The Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
- Vascular disorders
- Stress or depression
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your hearing specialist will conduct a complete medical history, as well as a complete examination.
What Treatments Are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available to relieve your tinnitus symptoms, from hearing aids with tinnitus-masking features to sound therapy.
While there is no known cure for this condition there are ways to manage it. These include:
A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Hearing aids are a popular treatment option for tinnitus even if hearing loss isn’t present. Hearing aids can be equipped with a tinnitus-masking feature to help individuals block out the noise and provide much-needed relief. These can be used in collaboration of hearing loss treatment as well.
Many patients believe “if I could get rid of this tinnitus I could hear better” but the reality is that their hearing loss is causing their tinnitus. When the hearing system is not provided with enough stimulus it can start self-generating sounds. With hearing loss, the perception of tinnitus can be enhanced since outside sounds are not heard as well, Hearing outside sounds better with hearing aids can lead to a reduction in the perception of tinnitus.
Sound Generator Devices
Tinnitus is perceived louder when the outside sounds are quiet. Often at night this is a problem for patients trying to sleep. A device that can generate soft, soothing sounds similar to ocean waves or a consistent white noise can help reduce the perception of internal head sounds.
Many hearing aids today also contain a sound therapy option whereby the user is getting some consistent stimulus to their hearing system in addition to the hearing aid amplification. Being exposed to this for long periods of time can lead to habituation. This is where your brain gets trained in the habit of not listening to your tinnitus instead of perseverating on it
There are many phone apps out there that can generate these kinds of sounds and many of them include relaxation or meditation components to help reduce the anxiety. ReSound Relief is an example of a free app that offers these features
We specialize in coming up with the right treatment plan and options to help you manage this condition and get more enjoyment from life.