What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of hearing sound when no external sound is present. It may present as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing or other noise in one or both ears and can vary in pitch, loudness and duration. Tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom of many health conditions. Many people perceive tinnitus as a minor irritation, others are so affected by tinnitus that it impairs their quality of life.

What causes tinnitus?

Hearing loss– Most people who have tinnitus also have some degree of hearing loss.

Exposure to loud noise– Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

Medications– More than 200 medicines can cause tinnitus.

Ear obstructions– including earwax, middle ear fluid, foreign objects

Other health issues– allergies, TMJ, stress, sinus pressure, tumors and circulatory issues among others

A careful review of your health history along with audiometric testing will lead to the most likely causes and best treatment for your tinnitus.

Tinnitus management:

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but treatments are available that help people manage their tinnitus and find significant relief. Outcomes vary depending on the specific cause of the tinnitus and other competing health factors. Management of tinnitus typically involves training the brain not to notice the tinnitus and learning to have a more positive response to the tinnitus.

Options include:

Hearing aids– Use of hearing aids is recommended when hearing loss accompanies tinnitus. Hearing aids make it easier to hear environmental sounds, which help you hear better but also help mask (or cover) the tinnitus sound you hear. This makes tinnitus much less noticeable.

Sound therapy- This involves the using of noise generators (maskers) that can be used with or without amplification to offer relief from tinnitus. Various types of background noise can be used to partially or completely cover the tinnitus to alter the perception of tinnitus and provide significant relief.

Behavioral Therapy– This focuses on changing the emotional response to tinnitus. This is often done using education, counseling and stress reduction.

Our doctors of Audiology will discuss your specific treatment options and answer any questions you may have.

What can I do to help myself?

-Avoid aggravating factors such as smoking, caffeine, alcohol and loud noise

-Always wear hearing protection in loud environments

-Find ways to cope with your tinnitus and reduce stress

-Avoid stress and fatigue


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